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Full text of "Knights in fustian : a war time story of Indiana"

THE UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

LIBRARY 




THE WILMER COLLECTION 

OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS 

PRESENTED BY 

RICHARD H. WILMER, JR. 



^^J^COU£CTi 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2010 witii funding from 

University of Nortii Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/knightsinfustianOObrow 



KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

% Wm €tme dS^torp of 



BY 



CAROLINE BROWN 



" / must become a borrower of the night 
For a dark hour or twain." 

Shakbspkasb 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

1900 



COPYRIGHT, 1900, BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO. 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



SDeDicatcD to 

THE MEMORY OF OLIVER PERRY MORTON 

THE GREAT WAR GOVERNOR, PATRIOT AND 

STATESMAN ; A MIGHTY INSTRUMENT 

IN THE SALVATION OF HIS 

COUNTRY 



603007 



PKEFACE 

While presenting the romantic and tragic sides 
of the situation with which this story deals, the 
author has not strayed from the truth, but has 
used the romancer's privilege of gathering into a 
narrative facts from many sources. Except in 
those chapters dealing with sentiment, — as com- 
mon in times of storm and stress as in tranquillity 
and safety, — every incident is founded on facts, 
which were either actual experiences of the au- 
thor's kith and kin, or else the observation of eye- 
witnesses. But by far the most important part 
was gleaned from the record of the treason trials, 
as reported and published by Benn Pitman, the offi- 
cial stenographer ; and wherever the ritual of the 
order is quoted, it is taken from this report. Ma- 
terial was also collected from Greeley's "American 
Conflict," Barnes's " History of the United States," 
three different lives of Governor Morton, and the 
files of the " Indianapolis Journal " for 1863 and 
1864. 

History slurs over the proceedings of the 



vi PREFACE 

Knights of the Golden Circle as a matter of little 
moment ; and we of a later generation can hardly 
credit the extent of the organization, and the 
heinousness of its aims, which included crime and 
the disruption of the Union. Yet Governor Mor- 
ton managed to keep every act of these Knights 
under surveillance. " There was not a moment," 
says Dudley Foulke, " in which they were not 
held securely in the grip of the war governor of 
Indiana." Quietly and firmly he broke up the 
organization by arresting the leaders, and pre- 
vented an uprising which, if successful, would 
have told very seriously on the outcome of the 
war. Six men who were the leaders of the order 
in Indiana were tried before a military commis- 
sion and found guilty of treason, but were par- 
doned by Mr. Johnson, after the assassination of 
President Lincoln, through the intercession of 
Governor Morton himself. 



CONTENTS 

CHIP. PAGB 

I. The QuiLTrNG at Mrs. Bowles's ... 1 

n. An Awkwakd Squad 9 

in. "Companions of Owls" 17 

rV. Moke Light 27 

V. At "Meeting" 32 

VI. The Tin-Peddler 38 

VII. The Whittakers 47 

VIII. "The Lone Star" 63 

IX. Mrs. Whittaker Vindicated ... 71 

X. The Polling Officer 78 

XI. Overheard 88 

Xn. A Hearth-stone Heroine .... 97 

XIII. The Barn-Burning Ill 

XIV. The Rivals 121 

XV. The Barbecue 131 

XVI. A Friend in Need 142 

XVII. In Bear Den Hollow 148 

XVIII. Treats of Failures 157 

XIX. An Object of Suspicion 165 

XX. The Rescue 177 

XXI. The Report to the Governor . . . 191 

XXII. The Meetlng of the Grand Council . 202 

XXm. Mrs. Neal's Guest 211 

XXIV. A Prisoner of War 224 

XXV. The " Uprising " .232 

XXVI. Captive and Captor 242 

XXVII. Capitulation 252 

XXVin. The Treason Trlal 270 



KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 



CHAPTER I 

THE QUILTESTG AT MRS. BOWLES'S 

A SCORE of women were seated down the loner 
sides of a gaudy calico quilt set up in frames in 
Mrs. Sarah Bowles's best room. They were sewing 
on it with more or less skill and with lagging in- 
dustry amid the hum of voices, subdued to a much 
softer key than was usual with them; and they 
were indulging in such mild gossip as the rural 
community in which they lived had furnished. 

The hostess sat at one end of the frames, and 
kept an austere eye on her guests. She had the 
air of a guard over prisoners, rather than that of 
an affable hostess, and her guests showed they felt 
it by stealthy glances and subdued snatches of 
side-talk. It was a rare event, indeed, when Mrs. 
Bowles had company, and rarer still for her to let 
any one but herseK set a stitch in her quilts, she 
being " so bigotty about her things," as her neigh- 
bors declared privately. Some very strong motive 
must have compelled her to offer this reluctant 
hospitality, but none dared question her. She was 



2 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

one of those women that command deference, — a 
singular combination, neither hate nor fear, love 
nor esteem, rendered by a weaker nature under the 
compulsion of a stronger one. 

" It 's real queer for Mrs. Bowles to have a 
quiltin', hain't it ? " whispered Mrs. Rush to her 
neighbor Mrs. Stump, made bold by the entire 
stretch of quilt between her and the morose 
hostess. 

" 'T is, for a fact ! 'spect she '11 pick out every 
stitch when we 're all gone ! " said the other 
woman spitefully, knowing too well her own fail- 
ings as a seamstress. 

" Wonder what made her ? " 

" Dun-know. My man ain't bid to supper, 
neither. Is yours ? " 

" No ; nary man is." 

" Mebby it 's 'cause she 's a widow woman," 
hazarded Mrs. Stump. At this moment the glance 
of the hostess fell on the two whisperers, who felt 
like conspirators, and tried to divert suspicion by 
increased assiduity in " running the diamonds " 
into which the quilt was laid off. 

Mrs. Rush was not a woman easily cowed, and 
if a little "flustered," as she would have said, 
rallied quickly ; being by nature as insensible as a 
rubber ball, — the harder the blow the greater the 
rebound, — she called out affably, with that super- 
fluity of voice common to people who dwell in the 
country and talk across large spaces : — 

" Mrs. Bowles, is this the ' Risin' Sun ' pattern, 



THE QUILTING AT MRS. BOWLES'S 3 

or tlie ' Old Maid's Puzzle ' ? Me an' Mrs. Wilson 
can't make out. 'Pears like I never could tell 
them patterns apart ! " 

Whereupon ensued an animated explanation and 
comparison of the two, either sufficiently hideous 
to drive one mad ; and Mrs. Bowles's attention was 
diverted. 

The discussion at last wore itself out, when a 
new topic was started by some one saying : — 

" Uncle Billy 's chillin' agin. Seems like he 
cain't git 'em broke with bervin nor nuthin' ! My 
man see him a-sittin' out in the sun, tilted agin' the 
house in his chair, just a-shakin' like a yaller dog 
in a thunder storm." 

Commiseration was expressed by all for this 
universal " uncle," who could claim actual kinship 
with none of them. They gave this title to all old 
men, and that of " aunt " to all old women after 
they had " turned " sixty, as a mark of esteem. 

This subject exhausted, another woman added 
her budget of news : — 

" I heerd that Mrs. Whittaker was took awful 
bad agin last night. She 's been a-lookin' terrible. 
She 's powerful puny." 

" Yes," chimed in her opposite neighbor, " Lu- 
cetty 's had to set up, keepin' bags of hot salt and 
hop poultices on her stummick, for three nights 
runnin'." 

" If that woman did n't have the hypo and 
would hump herself, she'd be a heap better off. 
As to looks, she ^s like a singed cat — ' looks a 



4 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

heap worse than she feels,' " observed Mrs. Bowles 
sternly. 

" An' Lucetty would n't be as slim as a bean- 
pole an' as slab-sided as a scantlin'," added Mrs. 
Stump, " If her ma would stir round a little more." 

" Poor Lucetty ! 't seems to me a heart of stone 
would pity her, with all she 's got on her back. 
A sick mammy, and a daddy that 's lazier than a 
white dog ! " said Mrs. Rush, with superficial sym- 
pathy. Induced by a daring desire to oppose Mrs. 
Bowles, of whom the whole community stood in 
awe, especially the women, who knew she consid- 
ered them collectively a " passel of fools." 

" She 's that fond of readin' and study in', too," 
volunteered Mrs. Clark, — who could do neither, 
owing to early neglect, yet cherished in her secret 
soul a pitiful ambition to learn when she had time, 
— " that she sews for the schoolma'am, so she '11 
teach her nights. I heerd she 's a studyin' algib- 
bery," In an awed voice, "she 'lows to be a 
teacher." 

" It 's a heap more gumption than Zeb 's got ! 
Klllin' 's too good for him ! " observed Mrs. Bowles 
viciously. 

To this there was a general assent, and a minute 
dissection of the characters of the absent Whit- 
takers followed, till some one remarked, " and 
Zeb, he 's that feered of the draft," and gave a new 
turn to the conversation, and they fell to talking 
of the proposed conscription. One quiet little 
woman, who lived nearer than the rest to RIdgely, 



THE QUILTING AT MRS. BOWLES'S 5 

the post village, and had later news, startled them 
into vehement discussion by saying : — 

" They do say JefP Riddle 's took." 

"What's he been doin' ? " asked Mrs. Rush, 
the only woman who had perfect control of her 
faculties — of which curiosity was the strongest 
— under the austere eye of Mrs. Bowles. 

" They do say he 'd ought to have went back to 
the army a month ago. But Harv Wilson he per- 
suaded him it was n't no use to go, as the Rebs 
was sure to whip the Yankees, and the North 
was n't a-goin' to put up with no more drafts, 
and most of the Black Republicans' time was up, 
and they was n't likely to enlist again. So he just 
'lowed he 'd stay, for he thought it likely Harv 
knowed more about it than he did." 

" H-m-m, arrested for desertin', I reckon," ob- 
served Mrs. Bowles. 

" Yes," eagerly assented the speaker, " I disre- 
membered the name of it. But, anyhow, he 's in 
jail now in Crofton." 

" He 's likely to be shot, the fool ! " said Mrs. 
Bowles fiercely ; " I told him not to mind Harv." 

In that community, blood never became so di- 
luted by marriage that kinship ceased ; and it was 
suddenly remembered that Jeff was the son of 
Mrs. Bowles's niece, who had married Harv Wil- 
son's cousin, Bill Riddle, and the conversation 
thereafter trickled into an uneasy silence. It was 
not a pleasant party, for all present felt con- 
strained and anxious in the presence of Mrs. 



6 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

Bowles, without any definite reason. One or two 
of the women were slirewd enough to suspect some 
stronger motive behind the invitation than mere 
friendliness and hospitality, knowing well the lack 
of the former and the rarity of the latter on the 
part of the hostess. But a quilting was a quilting, 
and, as such, too precious an opportunity for a little 
pleasure to be lost ; in their dull, monotonous lives 
any change was welcome, and rare enough in these 
war times. At Mrs. Bowles's there were no lively 
sallies, no rather broad jokes, retailed at the tops 
of their robust voices, to be greeted with bursts of 
shrill laughter, as were common elsewhere on such 
occasions. They chafed inwardly at the restraint 
too fine for their comprehension, and privately 
harbored the resentment weak natures feel at the 
wordless contempt of the strong and arrogant, 
which they instinctively recognized Mrs. Bowles 
to be. 

It was a relief to one and all when supper was 
announced, and they filed out through the door 
into the dazzlingly clean kitchen, where the drop- 
leaf table was set, its length further extended by a 
smaller one to accommodate them all. The supper 
was bountiful and excellent, and nearly everything 
on the table was the product of Mrs. Bowles's 
farm, which she managed and largely worked by 
herself. The coffee was parched barley with a 
dash of genuine, for the real article at fifty cents 
a pound was not to be thought of; the jellies, 
preserves (of which there were numerous kinds), 



THE QUILTING AT MRS. BOWLES'S 7 

" float " cake; and rhubarb pies were all sweetened 
^tli the maple sugar made in the camp in the 
early spring. The meats were ham, cured by her, 
and chickens of her own rearing. She had spun 
and woven the table-cloth, and also her brown 
checked linsey gown, and the gay rag-carpet on 
the floor. Mrs. Bowles was indeed a capable 
woman, one of the kind men hate and women 
envy. She could have led an army, like Joan of 
Arc or an Amazon. A longing for heroic action 
smouldered in her soul, a passion for conflict, that 
would have led her to kill an enemy ruthlessly. 
Failing an outlet for these misplaced emotions, she 
was a woman who had boundless contempt for her 
own sex, and was a hater of men because they 
failed to make use of their opportunities ; her 
ideas were heroic, and the men about her were not 
heroes. Yet her opinions were matters of princi- 
ple and conscience, and carried her to extremes ; 
for she had no sophistry in her nature, and could 
not permit herself a middle path. 

The guests were waited on by Liddy Ann Col- 
lins, Mrs. Bowles's " hired girl," a sort of second- 
ary hostess, who made up in trifling garrulousness 
for the taciturnity of her mistress ; in truth, she 
was vastly the more popular of the two, for " girls " 
in that locality stood on an equal footing with the 
families which they served. A kind of pity was 
felt for Liddy Ann by the neighbor women ; and 
when one of them ventured to express it openly, she 
replied, with the accidental wisdom of a fool : — 



8 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" I ain't got no cause to complain. She pays me 
my dollar a week reg'lar. An' her hark 's worse 'n 
her bite. She ain't like the balance of us weemen, 
but the Lord A'mighty made her, I reckon, like 
he did the rest of us. If she 's more stronger 'n 
we are, — like a man, — 't ain't her fault, as I 
know of ! " 

After supper, all retired to the " settin' room," 
also connected with the kitchen by a door, to get 
their wraps from the bed, piled high with feathers. 
Mrs. Bowles's house had but three large rooms, and 
a tiny bedroom off the kitchen, devoted to Liddy 
Ann, and on this occasion the sitting-room served 
as a dressing-room for her guests. The company 
quietly dispersed down the long lane through the 
sun - tinted twilight of the chill April evening. 
They parted with loud and reiterated good-bys at 
the big gate where the lane entered the road ; some 
climbed the rail fence into a field, while others kept 
to the path by the roadside. 

As the last one disappeared down the dip of the 
hill, Mrs. Bowles, who was looking after them 
from her doorway, said with a short, contemptuous 
laugh : — 

" A pack of fools ! Them men owe me some- 
thing for this day's work ! My quilt 's nigh about 
spoiled ! I '11 have to pick out every stitch of it 
and wash it, to make it decent." 



CHAPTER II 

AN AWKWAED SQUAD ' 

While Mrs. Bowles's guests were stitching and 
gossiping, the men were very differently and, as 
they thought, secretly employed ; for the quilting 
was a mere pretext to rid them of the " women 
folks," and their insatiable curiosity and eternal 
questioning, and in this Mrs. Bowles was their 
confederate. 

That there were meetings many and mysterious 
the women were beginning to suspect, forced to 
misgiving by the poor excuses the men — hard 
pressed through lack of the inventive faculty — 
gave for their frequent absences. As yet, none of 
them had been bold enough or shrewd enough to fer- 
ret out this mystery. At about the hour when the 
quilting party were discussing the Whittakers, a 
farm wagon might have been seen making its way 
from Crofton — the seat of Middle County — by 
an unfrequented road, along which there were but 
two houses for a distance of several miles. The 
road was a series of dips up and down all the way. 
At one moment nothing could be seen but the un- 
dulating corn-fields, ploughed but not planted ; for 
the season was backward even for the last of April, 



10 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

and no corn would be dropped in that locality till 
the pawpaw leaves were as big as squirrels' ears, 
a rule laid down by the pioneers and proved by 
experience. The next instant, from the top of the 
rise a glimpse might be caught of a tiny cabin set 
in an enchanting dale, surrounded by young green 
wheat ; or a sparkle of sunlight on the creek, 
whose course was indicated by the glaring white 
trunks of leafless "ghost trees," as the Indians 
called the sycamore. Lem Beasly, the driver of 
the vehicle, was a sun-tanned farm-hand, strong 
and healthy, dressed in rough, faded clothes of 
home-made butternut jeans. By his side on the 
high spring seat of the wagon sat a youth, also 
strongly built and of medium height. He lacked 
the ruddy hues one would look for, with his bright 
blonde hair, lucent blue eyes, and sturdy physique. 
Over his face spread a pallor and wanness inex- 
plicable, and his air would have been languid but 
for the momentary interest that roused him. The 
eager glance of the eye, the smile of recognition as 
familiar points in the landscape pleased him, testi- 
fied mutely that, for some reason, it was all dearer 
now than when last seen. In every respect he 
was a contrast to the driver ; but perhaps the most 
marked difference lay in their clothing, for the 
young man was dressed in army blue, and evi- 
dently took no small pride in the fact. It was 
Frank Neal, at home on a furlough, after having 
been taken prisoner and confined at Andersonville 
three months. He and Lem seemed to have been 
discussing this, for he said : — 



AN AWKWARD SQUAD 11 

" If it had n't been that some men from a New 
York regiment were there, too, I 'd been rotting 
there now." 

"Why, how's that?" 

" Well, for some reason the ' Johnnies ' always 
exchange the New Yorkers first. All of us Hoo- 
siers know that. I had a chum in this New York 
regiment, but the poor fellow died — starved ! — 
didn't stand it three months. A rumor went 
around — I never did know how it got started — 
that there would be an exchange, and we knew the 
New Yorkers would have the first chance. So I 
just changed clothes with poor Van Voort, — he 
had died at my side in the night, — and I was all 
right. When they called out his name I answered, 
and when they examined me I was from the — th 
New York and not from the — st Indiana, so that 's 
how I am here. I sent his things to his folks, and 
wrote and told them all about it. Poor Van ! he 
was a good fellow, — as brave a boy as ever lived, 
and he never whimpered, but he 'd been raised in 
a city and he could n't stand it." 

Tears rose to Frank's eyes, and for an instant 
he fell into sad musing ; then, throwing off the 
mood, he observed brightly : — 

" My folks don't look for me till to-morrow. 
And you bet I was glad to see you in town, Lem ! 
Saved me a six-mile tramp, for I never could stand 
it to wait. But I 'm hardly strong enough yet for 
that long a walk." 

" That 's so," said Lem, with a sympathy of tone 
his words could not convey. 



12 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" Where are you living now, — on the Culver 
place yet ? " 

" Yes," said Lem, " been there nigh a year." 

" Left Harv Wilson, did you ? " 

" Yes. Harv 's just a leetle too much of a ' But- 
ternut ' for me. Whiles I 'm a Democrat, I ain't 
no ' Copperhead,' and that 's what he is." 

" Glad to hear that, Beasly ! If there were 
more fellows like you, the governor would n't be 
worried by the stay-at-homes." 

As Frank spoke, they dipped into a valley which 
gave them glimpses into its green windings, and 
his sharp eyes saw moving objects that he could 
not make out, appearing and disappearing below 
a gentle swell. 

" Hello ! What 's that, Lem ? " pointing in the 
direction. 

" Don't you bother your head about them, young 
feller ! " said Lem with emphasis ; " better lot Cop- 
perheads alone ! Don't stir 'em up. They 're apt 
to bite, an' their bite 's pizen." 

" Well, who are they, anyway ? " 

" I '11 tell you, but never tell it as comin' from 
me. It 's the Knights a-trainin'." 

"Knights ? what knights ? " 

" Ain't you heerd about 'em ? ' The Sons of 
Liberty,' or ' The Knights of the Golden Circle,' 
as we call 'em here. They 're all the same. 'Spect 
that 's the Riffle Township Temple a-trainin'." 

"You don't mean to say they 're in this township, 
a township that was first to fill its quota? " 



AN AWKWARD SQUAD 13 

" They just are ! But fillin' that there last quoty 
took nigh about all the Union men there was left 
out of this county, except the fellers, like your pap, 
that 's too old to go, and War Democrats, and a lot 
of them went, too." 

" Who 's at the head of this business ? " 

" Old Harv Wilson 's County Commander. Now 
don't you tell this ; it 's as much as my neck 's 
worth ! But he 's been in and around Kidgely, 
an' 's goin' to hold a meetin' in our township to 
form a branch Temple next Friday night in that 
there little empty log-cabin on his place. They 
come to me, an' says I, ' No siree ; whiles I 'm a 
Democrat I ain't no Copperhead ! ' They 're a-gittin' 
a Temple in every township in this here county ! " 

Both men looked intently eastward at the mov- 
ing objects, which were too much obscured by the 
nature of the land, and too far off, to take the shape 
of men. 

" They played it smart on their weemen ! OF 
Miz Bowles helped 'em. She 's one of 'em, as 
much as a lady can be. Got all the weemen-folks 
to her house to a quiltin' so 's to give the men a 
chance to drill. Lord, wouldn't Miz Rush be as 
mad as a wet hen if she know'd it ! She 's as 
spunky as a rat when her dander 's up ! " and Lem 
chuckled with enjoyment. 

" You 're right, Lem. Keep out of it ! It 's a 
dangerous game." 

" You bet ! " was Lem's laconic reply, which 
nevertheless conveyed his opinion of the danger as 
well as many words. 



14 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" I believe I '11 take a look at them and see 
who 're there." Even as he spoke, Frank's foot 
was on the wheel and he dropped lightly to the 
ground. Lem looked troubled. " Be mighty sly, 
and don't let 'em ketch a squint of you ! " he 
warned. " But you 'd better not go at all." 

" But I will ! You drive on and wait for me 
at the creek. I '11 not be long." 

Frank swiftly and warily made his way toward 
the dip, and, when he reached a point where ob- 
servation was possible, threw himself flat on the 
ground. It was a strange sight for that retired 
spot. Below him lay a tiny vale, on which was 
spread a thick sward of blue grass, nibbled short 
as the pile of velvet by the sheep, which were hud- 
dled afar off, watching the intruders with timid 
surprise. Over it fell the brilliant sunshine of 
late April, un tempered by shadows, for as yet the, 
pawpaws and little elms on the hills shutting it 
in were leafless. A swift, strong stream of April 
wind blew unceasingly, and brought with it faint, 
sweet scents of opening buds, robbed from trees 
far out of sight, and the resinous odor of the new 
greenery of the j)ines that grew a mile away on 
the bluffs of Honey Creek. It bore the hum of 
bees reveling in the bloom of the wild plum, the 
contented chirping of hedge - sparrows building, 
and the few rare flutings of the meadow-lark. To 
men intent on conspiracy and sedition, these appeals 
of nature for peace and happiness fell as on the 
ears of the deaf. Even Frank, so thankful to be 



AN AWKWARD SQUAD 15 

free from the horrors of prison to watch the coming , 
of spring in the open country that he loved, gave 
these things no heed. He was intently watching 
the spectacle below him. Twenty-five or thirty 
men were going through military evolutions with 
guns roughly cut out of wood, in order to give them 
skill in handling arms, when they should have ac- 
quired them. These they managed more or less 
clumsily, but it was evident they were earnestly 
seeking to gain dexterity. Not a word was spoken 
except by the drill-master, whose commands were 
given in so low a tone that Frank could not catch 
them. 

" Well, I 'U be shot ! " said Frank after watching 
them for a few moments. He could not but adaiire 
their cunning in selecting their parade-ground, for 
the little valley was so retired that it was rarely 
traversed, and the road by which it was reached 
was a mere lane near the " big road." Lem had 
taken this short cut to accommodate a farmer liv- 
ing on it, fetching home his plough, which had 
been sent to town for repairs. 

Frank went back as secretly as he had come, and 
joined Lem at the ford as he had agreed. 

" Lem," he said, " that means mischief ! I '11 
not go on with you. Swear to me — Hold up 
your hand ! " Lem did so. " Swear that you '11 
not tell what you saw, and that I came home to-day 
and was with you ! " 

Lem took the required oath, then asked anx- 
iously : — 



16 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" What you goin' to do ? " 

" That I can't tell you. You 're loyal, are n't 
you?" 

"Yes." 

" Now drive on, for it may save trouble if you 
don't even know the direction I take." 

Lem drove, splashing through the creek, up the 
hill and out of sight, while Frank watched him, 
and, when he could no longer hear the clatter of 
the wagon, faced about and returned over the road 
by which he had just come from Crofton. 



CHAPTER III 

" COMPANIONS OF OWLS " 

It was late for a farm-liouse to show the glow of 
a candle, for the working day was long in that 
community : they arose at dawn, and were in bed 
before the afterglow had scarcely faded. Yet a 
thin thread of light revealed itself from a cabin on 
the extreme bounds of Harv Wilson's farm. In 
spite of a heavy horse-blanket hung on a nail on 
one side of the casement, and made fast by a jack- 
knife thrust into the frame at the other, a betray- 
ing shaft fell across the dooryard. Within the 
cabin, a company of half a score of men had gath- 
ered at this unwonted hour near midnight. The 
cabin had but one room, in which there was no 
furniture, for the last tenant had moved out. A 
rickety bench, a goods-box, and sundry billets of 
firewood furnished the seats. On the rude shelf 
above the fireplace, in which were the cold ashes of 
the last fire, were two candles stuck into potatoes 
shaped for the purpose. 

Harv Wilson himself was there, and seemed to 
be the moving spirit. He was one of those domi- 
nant men found in every community, a self-con- 
stituted leader, the " big man " of the neighbor- 



18 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

hood. Unfortunately for his followers, he was an 
unrighteous man, and his influence was wholly- 
evil. He was unprincipled in business transac- 
tions, and his face gave condemning testimony to 
his private character. The swarthy red of his 
skin and his mottled cheeks told of intemperance 
and sensuality ; his bloodshot eyes, with thick lids 
half closed, were crafty and cruel, and his narrow 
forehead betokened scant intellectuality and low 
cunning. His nose was bulbous and pitted, after 
years of hard drinking. The flabby skin hung 
down along his throat like the dewlap of a bull, 
and bristled with short red beard. His counte- 
nance proclaimed him a knave of the lowest sort. 
Yet he possessed a rude, virile force that enabled 
him to govern men. His very figure, with its mus- 
cular legs and brawny torso, testified to his power. 
He possessed tireless endurance, great courage, 
even utter fearlessness, because of his contempt of 
law and order, decency and probity. He feared 
neither God nor man, heaven nor hell, as he often 
boasted. 

Harv was wide awake and listening, but the 
other men were blinking sleepily, worn out with a 
hard day's work. 

" "Well, boys," he said, " if they don't come 
pretty soon, there won't be any ' Vestibule ' to- 
night. They were due at eleven o'clock, and it 's 
nigh on to midnight now," and he closed his watch 
as he spoke. 

" Maybe they 're lost," hazarded one man. 



"COMPANIONS OF OWLS" 19 

" Both of them fellers thought they could get here 
by directions, but that 's not so easy." 

They lapsed into silence again, for farmers de- 
prived of their natural amount of sleep are not 
loquacious. 

Harv Wilson's " place " lay in Honey Creek 
Township, — about six miles southwest of the 
Bowles farm, which was situated in Ri£3e Town- 
ship, — in one of the beautiful, picturesque spots 
so common to that part of Indiana, but more espe- 
cially found along the sinuous course of Honey 
Creek. The house where he lived was secluded 
and difficult to reach. It lay on a by-road that 
branched off the turnpike leading to Crof ton. The 
cabin was still more difficult to find. It stood on 
the top of a bluff overlooking the creek, and the 
only means of egress was by a wagon track across 
the fields to Harv's lane and thence to the road. 
This isolation did not matter much to its tenants, 
for they were usually too poor to own a team. Be- 
hind the cabin, a narrow path led down to the bot- 
tom of the ravine and followed the spring branch 
to the creek. This gorge opened wide, like a gap- 
ing mouth, at the place where the " branch " (as 
brooks are invariably called in the vernacular of 
the South and West) emptied into the creek, and 
here there was a deep, funnel-like pool, excavated 
in storms by the heavy flow of water from the ra- 
vine. Such a spot was usually a landing place for 
canoes, where one rudely hollowed from a log, and 
belonging to the tenant of the cabin, generally lay 



20 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

tied up. But to-night there were three or four, 
and another had just been made fast ; while filing 
up the steep path were three men, cautiously pick- 
ing their way as if unused to the place. Not a 
word was uttered. The occasional roll of a pebble, 
and the heavy breathing of a portly man, blown by 
the unusual exertion, were the only sounds that 
broke the heavy stillness. Even the owls and 
night-prowlers were silenced by this unwonted in- 
trusion. This walk was not without an object, but 
led them straight to the cabin whence the flash of 
light came. On reaching the door, the foremost 
man knocked twice softly and slowly, then three 
times rapidly. His companions were some dis- 
tance in the rear. A voice within asked a question 
that was audible to him only, to which he replied, 
" America," in a low tone, and Harv Wilson opened 
the door to them. 

After exchanging greetings, the new - comers 
were civilly offered the rude seats, then an uneasy 
silence fell upon the company. All were known to 
each other, as they lived on farms near by or in the 
village of Ridgely. Alec Rush, the blacksmith at 
the cross-roads. Dr. Skagg of Ridgely, and Tom 
Peyton, a clerk in the general store in Ridgely, 
were the latest comers. 

" We got into the wrong landin','' said Alec, 
" it was so dark. These two fellers aint got no 
notion of handlin' a canoe, and I had a hefty load 
a-polin' down. Three 's a tight fit for my dugout. 
Ain't the Commander here yet ? We 'lowed we 'd 
be the last." 



"COMPANIONS OF OWLS" 21 

Harv was about to answer him, when a low, 
mournful cry, " 0-a-k-h-o-u-n," long drawn out, 
ending in a wail, sounded startlingly near. To 
most of the men it seemed to have no particular 
significance, but by Harv it was comprehended 
perfectly; for he answered by going to the door, 
raising the latch, which could not be lifted from 
the outside, as the leather latch-string had been 
pulled in to guard against intrusion. He answered 
the cry with a similar one, and in a moment three 
men stood at the door, with each of whom he car- 
ried on a strange colloquy, with lengthy pauses 
between parts of words and sentences. 

" What — a star " — 

" Arc — turns," replied the man outside. 

" What — of — the — night ? " 

« Will — ye — inquire ? " 

" Inquire — ye ? — Come." 

" O — rion " was the password given with the 
" o " long drawn out. The new-comers were then 
permitted to enter ; for they were the men ex- 
pected from Crofton, and the Grand Temple at 
Indianapolis, to institute a branch Temple in 
Honey Creek Township. Upon entering, they pro- 
ceeded, with grotesque gravity, to give Harv the 
grips and signs of the degree of the Knights of 
the Golden Circle, to which they belonged, while the 
others present gaped in amazement. One of these 
men Harv did not know, and he looked him over 
suspiciously, peeping from a narrow slit between 
his dropped eyelids, although the stranger seemed 



22 imiGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

perfectly familiar with all the forms. The object 
of his distrust was a tall, slight young man, of com- 
monplace appearance, whose dark gray, near-sighted 
eyes were shielded by spectacles. His light red- 
dish hair was accompanied by a fair, delicate skin 
thickly sprinkled with freckles ; a large, pleasant 
mouth filled with perfect teeth gave him an amia- 
ble expression. He was quick and nervous in all 
his movements, but remarkably slow of sjDeech. 

Stephen Coultiss — the Commander of the Pa- 
rent Temple of Middle County at Crof ton — was 
heavy-set and low-browed. Above his forehead 
rose a thick shock of black hair, which gave one 
the impression of its being stacked like straw. His 
mouth was wide, with thin shaven lips set between 
the heavy jaws of a remarkably broad face. A 
short, thick beard covered the throat only, leaving 
the cheeks and chin bare. Altogether, his appear- 
ance was neither prepossessing nor intelligent. 
The third man was Dodd, Grand Commander of 
Indiana. He carried himself alertly, and wore the 
eager air of an enthusiast whose fatuity carried 
him above all minor considerations of prudence 
and caution. He was fearless because foolhardy, 
and had not prescience to foresee results. His 
schemes were of amazing magnitude and audacity, 
to the successful issue of which he was brought to 
see no obstacle until the gallows waved its hideous 
arms over his head. He could lead men mysteri- 
ously ; men of cool heads, calculating minds, com- 
mon sense, even intellect, were enthralled by the 



"COMPANIONS OF OWLS" 23 

spell of his bombastic sentimentality, and borne 
along by the rush of his enthusiasm to ruin ; some 
to prison, some to banishment, some to their 
graves. 

Harv was well acquainted with these two men, 
one of whom observed his manifest mistrust of 
their companion. 

" Oh, he 's all right," said Coultiss, as if Harv 
had uttered his doubts. " He 's one of us, straight 
from ol' Kaintuck." 

" I came from Louisville, sir, and my name is 
Oliver Tapp," said the suspect, with that soft slur- 
ring of the " r's " peculiar to the South. 

" He 's a-peddlin' tinware," said Coultiss, with 
a wink and a grin at the company in general. 

Harv drew Tapp and Coultiss into a corner and 
asked in a low tone : — 

" You come from Judge BuUett at Louisville ? " 

" Yes, sir ; but later from Indianapolis and 
Terre Haute." 

" These fellows ain't even had the ' Vestibule ' 
degree, and it ain't worth while to let 'em know 
too much," said Harv with a backward jerk of his 
thumb at the group by the fireplace. " I 'm going 
to sound 'em though, and drop 'em a hint that 
we 're going to turn this from a political to a mili- 
tary organization." 

" Have you any definite plans yet ? " asked Tapp 
of the Grand Commander, -who had joined them. 

" Yes ; but I want to talk them over with the 
Commanders of the County Temples first before 



24 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

we give them to the members. I 've already in- 
structed the Commander of the Innermost Tem- 
ple"— 

" Ah," said Tapp quickly, " that 's Bledso of 
Indianapolis ! " 

" You seem posted," observed Harv. 

" I should think so ! " was the significant reply. 
" I 've orders from BuUett, who has just received a 
general outline of the work of the reconstructed, 
order from Vallandighara." 

" Suppose we give these fellows the ' Vestibule,' 
then we can let them go if they want to, and we 
can consult together afterward." 

To this they consented, and the work proceeded. 
Owing to their restricted quarters and the lateness 
of the hour, some of the forms were necessarily 
dispensed with. Harv Wilson and Tapp acted as 
sponsors, as two were required. Dodd officiated 
as Knight Lecturer by right of office, and read 
from a ritual of his own composition, in unctuous 
tones. 

"Brothers," he read (meaning the sponsors), 
" the purpose ye have declared touching this stran- 
ger (the candidate) is most worthy ; let him ad- 
vance to our altar by the regular steps ; instruct 
him in our chosen solemn attitude, and let him give 
testimony of that which is in him." 

To this the sponsors agreed by an affirmative 
bend of the head. 

" Man, thou art now in the Vestibule, and if 
found worthy will hence be ushered into the con- 



"COMPANIONS OF OWLS" 25 

secrated Temple where Truth dwells amid her 
votaries/' He read for a few moments in this 
high-flown strain, and finished with the ques- 
tion : — 

" As thou wouldst answer to a good conscience, 
is thy soul pure and fitted to the indwelling of the 
Truth?" 

The candidate, embarrassed by the grandilo- 
quence of the ritual, did not know what he was 
expected to answer, till he caught an affirmative 
nod from Tapp and faltered out a throaty " Yes." 

The men very naturally labored under the im- 
pression that they were at " meetin'," begotten of 
the liberal use of " thee " and " thou," which they 
never heard anywhere else, and their faces ex- 
pressed seriousness to the verge of sadness. When 
possible, the candidates had been "lumped" to 
shorten the ceremony, and, as it was now quite 
midnight, an unheard-of hour for them to be out 
of bed, the Grand Commander hurried through 
the Declaration of Principles, which further mys- 
tified the new members, and caused one, at least, 
to change the opinion he had hitherto held of the 
order. Then Coultiss stumblingly read the penalty 
for disclosure, which was to the effect that, if a 
member divulged the secrets of the order, his body 
would be quartered, and one quarter would be 
placed at the north gate, one at the south gate, 
one at the east gate, and one at the west gate of 
this mythical Temple. In plain language, they 
were warned of assassination for treachery. They 



26 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

were then taught the grips and signs, and rehearsed 
the colloquy of the Vestibule degree. 

Meantime Dodd, the Knight Lecturer, forget- 
ting the time and place, spoke with all the fervor 
of an orator before a vast audience. Extravagant 
enthusiasm for the cause he championed emanated 
from him and roused his hearers, as certain odors 
will rouse some animals. 

The roll of his restless eye, the ceaseless play of 
expression that flashed like sheet-lightning and 
scarcely faded ere it reappeared, the frequency 
and rapidity of gesture, proclaimed him a reckless 
zealot. What wonder that these dull, bucolic 
minds were enkindled ! Carried away by Dodd's 
irresistible energy, they bound themselves to what 
they scarcely knew. They were not collected 
enough to realize the full purport of the oaths 
they took. In truth, the lowest or Vestibule de- 
gree did not enlighten them much as to the pur- 
poses of the three higher, into which they were to 
be inducted, should they prove to be of the right 
kind of material. 

It required some time to go through with this 
ceremony, abridged as it was, and it left the can- 
didates, simple farmers with the exception of the 
clerk, bewildered and apprehensive. Most of them 
slunk away home, — feeling like black conspirators, 
dreading to meet their wives, who would scold and 
question, — leaving the others and Harv in consul- 
tation with the three strangers. 



CHAPTER IV 

MORE LIGHT 

No sooner had these men withdrawn than those 
remaining — among whom were Zeb Whittaker and 
Alec Rush the blacksmith — drew together around 
a table improvised from a barrel-head, and Coultiss 
opened a small valise he had brought with him. 

" Are all here faithful ? And do you solemnly 
swear to reveal nothing that now transpires ? " 
asked Dodd in a tremulous voice, so wrought upon 
by the excitement of the occasion as to be almost 
hysteric. 

Each in his own way gave promise of secrecy, 
and Coultiss prepared to lay the contents of the 
valise before them. Tapp obligingly took down 
from the shelf one of the improvised candlesticks 
to further the examination. Within the valise, 
neatly packed, were many small vials and several 
little clocks. 

" A clock-peddler, by golly ! " observed Rush 
with a chuckle. " Lots of peddlers to-night ! " 

" These are all inventions of one of our order to 
help the cause ; " explained Coultiss, " these little 
vials hold Greek fire, and when they are thrown 
again' a house or barn they burn it ! Nothing '11 



28 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

put it out ! We 've already made good use of 
them In Kentucky." 

"What is this?" asked Harv Wilson, touching 
a metal ball thickly set with nipples for caps. 

" That 's a hand-grenade. The two halves un- 
screw, and in the centre is a vial of an explosive 
that is sure to go off whenever it is thrown against 
anything. One of these caps will certainly explode 
it, there are so many of them." 

" W'y, what have we got to do with them 
things ? " bluntly asked the blacksmith. 

" Use 'em when the time comes ! This war 's 
got to stop ! The usurpation of Abe Lincoln's 
government 's got to stop ! It 's tyranny ! We '11 
not stand the draft ! We '11 resist, and these will 
help us ! " answered Coultiss violently. 

At this outburst the new recruits looked at each 
other in alarm, for they had altogether misappre- 
hended the intent of the order ; if they had formed 
any opinion of it at all, it was as a sort of safety 
valve for letting off surplus dissatisfaction in idle 
demonstrations or threats ; that it could lead to 
deeds of arson and murder they had never dreamed. 
Jim Swazey, the smith's new hand, took it all 
coolly, — so much so, indeed, that one would have 
thought he was thoroughly posted. Zeb Whittaker 
had not energy enough to betray his feeling, if he 
had any. But Alec Rush looked very serious, and 
felt that Harv Wilson had trapped them as neatly 
as he himself did muskrats in Honey Creek. 

"These," said Coultiss, taking up one of the 



MORE LIGHT 29 

clocks, — "I reckon you wonder what they 're for. 
They '11 set off the fuse to a mine that '11 blow 
up state-houses and forts and arsenals ! They 're 
mighty good medicine for ' Lincoln dogs ' ! " and 
he smiled wolfishly. " Some of these could be put 
to a good use right here in this county, over in 
Riffle Township. The Grand Council 's heard of 
Abner Neal's sayings and doings, and they 've 
ordered a dose out of one of these little bottles for 
him ! " 

Although Harv Wilson hated Abner Neal as 
the most zealous and outspoken Union man in the 
adjoining township, a man his opposite in every 
respect, yet even he did not like the idea conveyed 
by Coultiss's speech. 

" You don't mean to kill him, do you ? " Harv 
asked gruffly. 

" W-e-1-1, no, — only give him a little hint to 
keep his mouth shut ! " 

" How will you do it ? " asked Tapp interestedly. 

" Well, sir, some man here 's got that to do ! 
You 're bound by your oaths to help the cause in 
every way in your power, and the Council decides 
how that is to be done. We think a little hint 
like settin' fire to his barn '11 do it, and this is the 
stuff for that job ! " said Coultiss, holding up one 
of the vials. 

He and Dodd observed with annoyance the evi- 
dent dislike of the project shown clearly on the 
troubled faces about him. 

" You know the penalty ! " he said menacingly. 



30 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" And there 's another job set for Middle County 
Temple ; that 's to raid the jail and let out the 
bounty- jumpers and deserters. You 're bound to 
help and protect them whenever and wherever you 
can, and to resist the draft. These are orders 
from headquarters." 

"There ain't any bounty -jumpers in jail now, 
and only one deserter, and he ain't worth the stuff 
in that bottle ! " observed Harv, who had been the 
means of getting him there. 

" That don't matter. It 's the principle," said 
Dodd. 

" As for the other fellows," observed Jim Swazey, 
" they 're well took care of outside of jail ! " 

Coultiss gave him a sharp look, which he re- 
turned in kind, then said : " We might as well set- 
tle Abner Neal's business now. We '11 draw lots. 
Now 's the time to show your grit ! " 

" I did n't join the Knights to burn my neigh- 
bors' barns," said Alec sturdily, " an' I won't 
draw no lots, neither ! " 

" Remember the penalty ! " said Dodd solemnly. 

*' Penalty be damned ! I ain't no firebug ! " 

" You '11 not turn traitor to the cause ? " asked 
Harv, who knew his man and the uselessness of 
urging ; for, like most good-natured persons. Alec 
was incredibly stubborn when once his mind was 
made up. 

" No. I '11 respect my oath as far as tellin' goes. 
But I '11 see the whole order in the pit before I '11 
do such dirty tricks as them ! You may just count 



MORE LIGHT 31 

me out of the whole sneakin' business ! " And be- 
fore they could stop him Alec left the cabin. 

" D' you think he 's safe ? " asked Dodd anx- 
iously. 

" Oh, he '11 be mum if he says he will. But 
Alec 's set. He won't do nothin' if he says he 
won't, though he 's mighty easy-goin' generally," 
said Swazey. 

" Mr. AYilson, will you proceed to prepare the 
lots ? " asked Dodd. 

Harv retired to the corner with Coultiss, where 
they whispered together and soon returned with 
the strips of paper, which they put in a hat and 
Harv passed to the half dozen men who remained. 
Each put in his hand, and a long breath of relief 
testified to the blank he drew. The dullard Zeb 
was reached last, and there was left in the hat but 
one lot, which, when he turned it over, showed a 
rude sketch of the skull and crossbones. 



CHAPTER V 

AT "meeting" 

At the forks of the road which led east to Crof- 
ton, and south to the village of Ridgely, stood a 
weather-beaten church, known locally as " Liberty 
Meetin' House." It was not so called from any 
political bias, but from the fact of its being free to 
itinerant preachers of any denomination who chose 
to stick up a notice at the village post-office, or 
Alec Rush's smithy, announcing preaching therein. 
It had no regular pastor, and any chance preacher 
that held " meetin' " had cause to be gratified at 
the size of his congregation, though possibly not at 
Its motive for coming, which, happily, he was not 
wise enough to discern. 

•The first Sunday in May was a bright day with 
a chill in the air. The hitching-racks around the 
little church were crowded with horses. Within, 
the benches were filled with their owners ; groups 
in the yard were " passing the time of day," while 
from every direction laggards were still coming 
afoot. The church could not hold them all ; and 
men who were unable to find places without going 
to the " Amen Corner," yet felt piously inclined, 
loitered near the windows to catch the " drippings 



AT "MEETING" 33 

of the gospel ; " while those not so disposed seated 
themselves on the rail fence in the sun, and quietly 
exchanged opinions as to the prospects of wheat, 
or corn planting, the war, or even the draft, which 
was imminent, and opposed in Middle County 
with bitter rancor. 

The people thereabout were not given to the 
study of " doctrine," for their religious training 
had been too discursive ; one Sunday they would 
listen to a Primitive Baptist, and on others to a 
Missionary Baptist, a New Light or Universalist, 
a Presbyterian, Old or New School, and occa- 
sionally to a Methodist, until their minds were 
in hopeless confusion as to future rewards and 
punishments and methods of baptism. This Sun- 
day, brother Jocktan Teeter, of the Old School 
Presbyterians, was to preach. The proceedings 
at the opening of the services were not formal. 
When a sufficiently large company had gathered, 
one of the church officers came to the door and 
called out in a big, cheerful voice, " Meetin 's about 
to begin. Come in, folkses ! " 

In they thronged, filling the seats to overflowing, 
men on one side of the house, women on the other. 
Some brought in chairs from their wagons, and sat 
in the rear of the church, tilted comfortably against 
the wall. 

The old custom of lining out the hymn was still 
in usage there, and Zeb Whittaker always "led 
the tune." He took no other part in the meeting 
and made no pretense to any religious belief, but 



34 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

dozed peacefully through the sermon, starting vis- 
ibly when disturbed by the force and fervor of the 
preacher's voice. But he loved to sing, which he 
did in a loud thin voice with considerably more 
confidence than was warranted, for it had a habit 
of breaking on the high notes, at which he was not 
in the least discomposed, but there was usually 
some snickering on the part of the youngsters in 
the congregation. If his daughter Lucetta hap- 
pened to be present, the accident was not noticeable, 
for she would bravely carry the tune to a finish. 

She was a natural musician, and it was rumored 
about the neighborhood that she aspired to learn 
to play on the cabinet organ, and that Miss Ab- 
bot would teach her the use of that instrument, as 
well as " algibbery." The purchase of an organ 
for Liberty Church had even been broached. Se- 
vere were the strictures of the Baptists and Pres- 
byterians of the " Old School " when this proposi- 
tion was timidly made, for they firmly believed and 
forcibly proclaimed that nothing but what had 
breath should praise the Lord. Whereupon Alec 
Rush, who belonged to the other faction, " 'lowed 
he 'd have to send 'em his belisses." 

With cheerful if rather dull countenances, un- 
musical voices, and curious unfitness on such a 
lovely day, they were singing heartily " I would 
not live always" to the old tune of "Frederick." 
Zeb's voice, as usual, had shattered on the high 
note, and Lucetta had continued to the end of the 
phrase, like a soaring lark, when half the congrega- 



AT "MEETING" 35 

tion turned their heads, as if on a pivot, to the door 
on the men's side, at the entrance of a new-comer. 
Head-turning is contagious in a country assembly 
and involves the whole of it. The cause of the 
disturbance was Frank Neal, who had reached 
home the Thursday before. With innocent vanity 
and boyish audacity he came late, glorying in his 
uniform, and rather maliciously flaunting it in the 
faces of those whom he knew hated it. He wore- 
a bright new one, and its yellow cavalry trimmings 
were in gorgeous contrast to the rusty blacks, but- 
ternut browns, and dull indigos which predomi- 
nated in the raiment of the other men. He even 
wore spurs, and their jingling could be plainly 
heard during the " lining out " as he marched 
proudly down the aisle. He would have liked to 
wear full accoutrement, but an innate sense of pro- 
priety restrained him. 

There was much curiosity and surprise expressed 
in the faces of those who watched his theatrical 
entry, for it was not generally known that Frank 
had been released from prison and had got home. 
For some private reason, he had kept it " shady," 
as he would have said. He walked forward till 
he found a vacant place behind Zeb Whittaker 
and in line with Lucetta, close under the pulpit. 
At the end of the preliminaries, brother Jocktan 
Teeter rose in the pulpit to preach. He was a 
man of strong prejudices, no education, a wonderful 
vocabulary of lengthy words, which he used from a 
fancy for their sonorous sound, though he was igno- 



36 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

rant of their meaning. His sermon was a tirade 
of abuse against the existing government, inter- 
larded with denunciatory texts which suited his 
purpose. The boy endured it passively for an 
hour, but the flush on his cheeks and nervous 
twisting of his body betokened a struggle to keep 
silent. On the bench in front of him sat Jim 
Swazey, the new hand at the blacksmith's, a stran- 
ger to Frank; and at the close of the discourse, 
which grew more and more vindictive as it neared 
the end, he turned with a contemptuous grin and 
stared full into Frank's face. Jim displayed on 
the bosom of his blue hickory shirt a device that 
was very popular. He gloried in the fact that he 
had once been arrested and taken to Indianapolis 
for wearing the emblem, and that it had been 
decided on the trial " that a man had a right to 
wear what he pleased, as it could not be construed 
into an ' overt act ' to wear a cross section of a 
butternut." He had flaunted it with impunity ever 
since, and his example was servilely followed by 
the youths thereabout. 

Frank's quick eye saw it. Ali'eady enraged by 
the covert insults of the preacher, and the taunt 
conveyed in Jim's grin, this open display of the 
sign of treason was too much. He dived into his 
pocket, drew out his knife, opened it, perfectly be- 
side himself with fury, reached over and cut the pin 
off of Jim's shirt front, threw it on the floor, and 
crushed it under his heel. The people immediately 
around them who saw the act were paralyzed by 



AT "MEETING" 37 

fright. Jim's reputation for violence was estab- 
lished, and they looked for murder. 

" You may be a ' butternut ' inside, but I '11 be 
hanged if you shall carry the sign of it outside 
while I 'm around ! " Frank hissed in a whisper in 
Swazey's ear. 

Jim was not a coward, but he was crafty, and 
did not resent Frank's violent act at the time, but 
" laid it up for him then and there." He knew 
these people of Riffle Township well, and realized 
that, if he turned on his adversary, a curious clan- 
nishness would lead them to espouse Frank's cause 
against him, notwithstanding they differed politi- 
cally. Frank was a son of the soil ; he was an out- 
sider ; in this case discretion was the better part of 
valor. It did not suit his purpose to retaliate 
there, but his revenge waited. Brother Teeter, 
observing signs of a disturbance and fearing an 
outbreak, hastily brought the services to a close 
and dismissed the congregation. 

Frank stopped to speak to but few of his old 
acquaintances, not many of whom were sympathiz- 
ers with the Union cause, but among those with 
whom he exchanged a hand-clasp were Zeb Whit- 
taker and his daughter Lucetta. 

From that day he was a marked man with the 
Ejiights, and the rival and enemy of Swazey. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE TIN-PEDDLER 

" La, somebody 's openin' the big gate, Miz 
Bowles ! " exclaimed Liddy Ann Collins, as she 
stood in the door, peering out from under her hand 
down the long lane to the " big gate," the inlet to 
the farm. 

" An' there 's a kivered wagon, an' a white horse 
with a rope halter. It 's a tin-peddler ! " she ex- 
plained, after examining the entire turnout at long 
range with that remarkably acute vision of the 
country-bred person accustomed to long distances. 

Mrs. Bowles gave no heed to Liddy Ann, but 
went on with her work. This contemptuous dis- 
regard would have dampened the ardor of most 
people, but not that of Liddy Ann Collins. With- 
drawing her devouring gaze from the peddler, she 
turned fully to Mrs. Bowles. 

" We need a new b'iler, and a skimmer, and 
some pie-pans," she volubly enumerated ; " them 's 
burned black." 

Mrs. Bowles, sternly reticent, still made no an- 
swer to her handmaiden, but, as the clatter of 
tinware became audible, she arose from her wheel, 
where she was engaged in spinning fleecy rolls of 



THE TIN-PEDDLER 39 

wool into yarn, and looked over Liddy Ann's shoul- 
der at the peddler, who was now well up the lane. 
At the sight of thp: man's face her casual gaze be- 
came one of sharp inspection, and after a moment 
she said : — 

" Liddy Ann, go to the smoke-house and fetch 
them three bags of rags. The two crocks of taUow 
and the big mould of beeswax are on the swingin' 
shelf down cellar ; fetch them too. They '11 nigh 
about pay for the things we need. And I '11 dicker 
with him." 

Liddy Ann departed reluctantly as the peddler 
drew up at the yard gate, and, throwing the lines 
down on the back of his bony horse, he dismounted 
from the high seat and walked with a brisk step 
and assured air up to Mrs. Bowles. He asked in 
a quick, cheerful voice : — 

" Can I make a trade with you in the tinware 
line to-day, ma'am ? " 

"Depends on what you fetch," she answered 
briefly. 

He looked around swiftly, and, while he casually 
pulled the lobe of his left ear, said with pleasing 
distinctness : — 

" I 've got lots of useful things, and knickknacks 
to please the ladies ; " then, significantly, in a lower 
tone, that the weasel-eared Liddy might not hear, 
*' and some for the men." 

At this instant Liddy Ann appeared, staggering 
under the weight of the rag-bags. 

"There must be nigh about fifty pound ! 
They 're awful hefty." 



40 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

The peddler took them from her, and she disap- 
peared hurriedly into the cellar by an outside door 
that opened with two leaves, and was soon back 
again with her " plunder," as she called it. They 
all walked to the wagon standing in the lane. The 
man unbuttoned the door on the side of the wagon, 
displayed a lot of cheap tinware, and glibly com- 
mended it to Liddy Ann, the saturnine mistress 
standing silently by. She made a selection of 
the articles she wanted, the peddler meanwhile 
jocularly praising her judgment and appearance, 
with the freedom of his kind, while she simpered 
with delight. The trade over, he turned to Mrs. 
Bowles. 

" Have n't any use for this kind of an article, 
have you ? sell it to you cheap. It 's a fine bread- 
box ; keeps bread from drying a long time, and 
flies and ants out of it. Fine thing, / tell you ! " 

Mrs. Bowles looked at it dubiously and asked : — 

" How much does it cost ? " 

He named the price. 

" Cash or trade ? " she asked shortly. 

" Oh, cash for this ! We can't make enough off 
of rags to afford to trade for such costly goods as 
this ! Comes high, you know, it 's so useful," and 
he laughed knowingly and tapped the box. It 
did not emit the dull rumble of an empty box, but 
gave out a thick, muffled sound. 

The woman frowned, but made no reply. 

" And here, ma'am, 's a spice - box that goes 
along with it. Holds all kinds of precious stuff 



THE TIN-PEDDLER 41 

in that line. Just the thing for the kitchen ! " 
He took up, and extended toward her on the palm 
of his hand, — a very delicate, slender-fingered 
hand for one of his calling, — a large spice-box 
that would hold perhaps a half gallon of spice. 

" Guess I '11 take 'em both," said Mrs. Bowles, 
after pondering a moment. " Liddy Ann, go look 
in the cracked chiny sugar-bowl, the blue one that 
was Granny's, — on the top shelf of the pantry, — 
and fetch me some change," she said to that dam- 
sel, who was much taken with the gallantries of 
the peddler and was loth to leave. When Liddy 
Ann disappeared loiteringiy on her errand, the 
peddler grinned impudently and said knowingly : — 

" I thought you 'd take 'em. Come in mighty 
handy by and by ! " There was more in this 
speech than the mere words conveyed, for Mrs. 
Bowles said, almost fiercely : — 

" I don't need anybody to help me to make up 
my mind, young man, and I stick to it after it is 
made ! " 

" Oh, nobody doubts that, ma'am. The loyalty 
of Mrs. Bowles to anything she puts her mind to 
is not questioned by any of us." 

She paid no attention to his flattery, nor to the 
emphasis of the last sentence, but commanded 
sharply : — 

"Help me with these things before she gits 
back." 

The man took up the bread-box, which seemed 
heavy, and Mrs. Bowles the spice-box : she had 



42 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

not accurately calculated its weight, so that it 
nearly fell from her grasp ; but before Liddy Ann 
returned, the boxes were disposed of, and Mrs. 
Bowles and the peddler were at the wagon, look- 
ing at the counterpart of those which had been 
removed. 

" Miz Bowles," bawled Liddy from the house 
door, " they ain't a cent in that there cracked 
chiny bowl, an' I let it fall an' busted it ! " 

" Fall in the money market," facetiously re- 
marked the peddler. " That 's lucky. Gold 's 
dreadful high ; forty-three per cent, premium I " 

By this time Liddy Ann had reached the wagon- 
side. 

" It does n't make any difference about the pay 
to-day, ma'am. I '11 be in the neighborhood a 
couple of weeks, and will be passing often, and 
you can pay me some time when I 'm going by." 

" I '11 pay now ! " said Mrs. Bowles gruffly, and 
she went to the house in search of funds. 

No sooner had she disappeared than Liddy Ann 
began to assume a coquettish air, wetting her lips 
with her tongue, smoothing her locks and simper- 
ing foolishly, as do some women, unused to men's 
notice, in the presence of the most insignificant 
man. 

" Did I hear you say you 'd be in the neighbor- 
hood some time ? " she asked in her " company " 
voice. 

" Yes," said the peddler, as he leaned negligently 
against the gate, rather impudently leering at her 



THE TIN-PEDDLER 43 

in return for the smiles and airs which he fully 
comprehended. 

" Where 're you atoppin' ? " 

" No place yet. Just got here last night. 
Stayed at the tavern over at Ridgely last night. 
I 'd like to get a place to stay to-night, and maybe 
the rest of the week. I 've got right smart to do 
in this neighborhood if I sell out my load." 

" La, I should say ! You might stay here, 
only Miz Bowles is so set agin' men, they never 
put their foot on the place 'less they 're sent for. 
She don't like none of 'em. Says she knows 'em 
all as well as if she 'd knit 'em on two needles and 
made up the pattern," and Liddy Ann giggled 
cheerfully. 

" That 's hard on the young fellows, seeing 
there's such a nice girl here. You can't make 
me believe some young buck don't come,"., said 
the peddler jocosely. 

" They 'd come mighty peart if she 'd let 'em ! " 
said Liddy Ann, nodding toward the door that had 
swallowed up the gaunt form of Mrs. Bowles. " I 
can take my choice ; fellers or my place ! An' I 
ain't a-goin' to give up a dollar job fer no five-cent 
man ! " 

She gave him a look which delicately conveyed 
that she held him at a much higher rate of reckon- 
ing. He laughed uproariously, and slapped his 
thigh, in appreciation of her sprightly humor. 

" It 's mighty rough on the boys, I should say ! " 
cried he. 



44 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" Nary a man 's set foot on this place since I 've 
been here — and that 's since harvestin' last sum- 
mer — that don't belong here, but Alec Rush, an' 
he come to set up Mrs. Bowles's new cuttin'-box 
that come the day of the quiltin'. There was n't 
no men-folks bid to that neither," she interjected 
regretfully. " I declare ! I think Miz Bowles is 
too hard on 'em ! " 

" What kind of a cutting-box was it ? I 'm the 
man that can set them up myself ! " asked the 
peddler, reverting to the main point, from which 
Liddy was prone to wander. 

" Now you 've got me guessin' ! I don't know ; 
Alec took it off in the boxes. Said it was a tick- 
lish job, and he reckoned he could do it better at 
the shop. Seemed mighty hard to fix, for he ain't 
fetched it back yet ! It 's nigh a week ago he took 
it." ,. 

" Likely something 's wrong about it, — some- 
thing missing. I '11 take a look at it when I pass 
the blacksmith's. Where is his shop?" 

Liddy obligingly explained, and then asked en- 
gagingly:— 

" Are you argoin' to the barbecue ? " 

He had never heard of the barbecue till she 
mentioned it, but answered with alacrity, " Oh, 
yes. I '11 be there. Hope you will, too. If I 
thought you would n't, more than likely I 'd stay 
away. When is it to be ? " 

" Long about the ' Fourth.' " 

" Why, that 's Wednesday." 



THE TIN-PEDDLER 45 

« Oh, I mean tlie Fourth o' July." 

" Good heavens, that 's two months off ! " 

Liddy looked surprised at his astonishment ; for 
since the last one the whole neighborhood had been 
looking forward to the recurrence of the event, 
with that patience peculiar to such people. The 
barbecue was an institution of the political party 
in power in that and the adjoining township, and 
occurred as regvJarly as the day rolled round. 
She could see no reason for surprise on his part 
at its being two months off. Had Liddy been 
astute enough, the expression of that emotion by 
the peddler would have betrayed to her that he 
was accustomed to a crowded and busy life, one in 
which events hurried each other ; but she was not 
shrewd enough to draw the inference, and, more- 
over, her curiosity was entirely without suspicion. 

" W'y, that ain't long! " she observed. " I kind 
©'thought mebby Jim Swazey 'd ask me to go. 
But then he ain't nobody," she said, with a coquet- 
tish giggle and a scornful toss of her head. 

" He 'd better not," said the peddler, with as- 
sumed ferocity, cracking his whip. 

" They do say he 's a-settin' up to Lucetty Whit- 
taker. But, my ! she 's too ' uppety ' fer him. 
She 's a-studyin' algibbery and a-learnin' to play 
on the organ ; the schoolma'am 's a-teachin' her. 
But, la, I ain't a-carin' who he sparks, long 's 
't ain't me ! " and she pursed her lips contempt- 
uously. 

" Who is this girl Lucetta ? " asked the peddler. 



46 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" Oh, she 's Zeb Whittaker's girl. Only child 
he 's got left, — had scads of 'em, but t' others is all 
dead, — and he can't support her and her mammy, 
he 's that do-less. They do say lately he 's taken 
to sleepin' all day an' runnin' all night. They 
ain't no corn shuckin' now," she said musingly, as 
if refuting some mental reason for Zeb's peculiar 
somnolency. " Anyhow, that 's better than sleepin' 
all the time he ain't eatin'." 

At this moment Mrs. Bowles reappeared with a 
roll of " shin-plasters," — as fractional currency 
was called, — much out of proportion to the price 
asked for the boxes, one would think, and gave it 
to the peddler. 

" That settles the bill?" she inquired. 

"Yes, ma'am." 

He then climbed to the high seat, turned the 
wagon around, nodded to Mrs. Bowles, clucked 
to the old horse, and clattered down the lane, not 
before giving Liddy Ann a smile which so " flus- 
tered " her she did not notice he had gone off with 
the boxes after all. 

As the peddler closed the gate behind him he 
said to himself : — 

" I think I '11 take a hand in setting up that 
cutting-box ! Shrewd old girl, that Mrs. Bowles ! " 

The whirr of Mrs. Bowles's wheel was sounding 
again before he closed the gate ; but Liddy Ann 
was standing in the doorway looking after him 
regretfully. He waved his hat to her from the 
road, then drove rapidly off to the blacksmith's, 
his load jingling loudly. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE WHITTAKJEES 

The Whittakers lived on a rented place, contain- 
ing about thirty-five acres, that belonged to Abner 
Neal; and the creek and a by-road separated it 
from his home farm. It was a poor, worn-out piece 
of land, — from which the loam had washed, leav- 
ing bald fields of clay, — overrun by blackberry 
vines and thickets of wild plum, and split nearly in 
two by a most picturesque ravine. These ravines 
formed a peculiar feature of the country there- 
about. They seemed to radiate from a common 
centre, a point on Honey Creek at the junction of 
Clifty (known as " the little creek ") with the big 
creek. From the top of a high bluff on the Whit- 
taker place could be counted nine of the " back- 
bones," as the ridges that separated the ravines 
were called. They covered an area of about ten 
miles in an almost complete semicircle, and were 
on the left bank of the creek, which was very sinu- 
ous throughout its entire course. The opposite 
side of the stream was lined with rich bottom-lands 
rising to gentle hills, where rolling pastures alter- 
nated with magnificent woodland and highly culti- 
vated fields. In the midst of one of the most 



48 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

beautiful of these tracts stood a large brick house, 
the Neal homestead. 

Every farm touching on that side of Honey 
Creek had one or more of the ravines ; some were 
deep and dark as canyons, others as winding as 
the labyrinth ; still others were shallow glens or 
mere hollows. These dark, cool gorges, which 
the sun never robbed of their chill, were a tangle 
of sarsaparilla and gosling and wild cucumber and 
clematis vines that beautified everything near them 
with thick shrouding foliage. Shade-loving flow- 
ers, ferns, and herbs flourished in the dim green 
light and cool moisture of their depths. Great 
pines and hemlocks found root-fastness upon their 
steep sides ; and in autumn, from inaccessible 
ledges, the radiant red of the sumach lent a 
transient, dazzling glow to the prevailing gloom. 
Where the sun glinted through a mass of foliage, 
the partridge-berry grew amid moss and lichens, 
giving a dash of color to their dull grays and 
greens. Spicewood and sassafras blended their 
odors with those of the mints that grew along the 
" Branch ; " for, invariably, through every one of 
these mimic canyons ran a stream of water, if no 
larger than a crystal trickle from a choked foun- 
tain. In every case they originated in a spring 
at the head of the gorge, where was a place of 
silence and sweet odors. The pioneers of Indiana 
had wisely chosen to make their homes convenient 
to these wells of living water, influenced, no doubt, 
by the resemblance of environment to that of 



THE WHITTAKERS 49 

the mountain gorges of Tennessee and Kentucky, 
whence so many of them came. 

As a mere artistic feature of the landscape, these 
ravines were neither prized nor admired by their 
owners. The medicinal herbs and roots and the 
various mints which they yielded generously, and 
which were in demand for domestic remedies, alone 
gave them value. Mrs. Whittaker was skilled in 
the preparation of these homely medicaments, for 
she knew the name of every plant that grew there 
and its peculiar healing virtue. To her, the wild 
gorge back of her cabin, with its tangle of lush 
greens, its enchanting lights and shades, was of 
supreme interest. From its heights and depths 
were got together the materials for her " doc- 
torin','' and she dosed herself into a bedridden 
ghost by the concoctions she made and swallowed ; 
but they gave an otherwise empty mind and hands 
employment, and whiled away hours that would 
have been leaden in their dullness. Her cunning 
in their distillation and use had brought her, unso- 
licited, the title of " Herb Doctor " among her 
humble neighbors. 

There was a narrow, well-worn path running up 
the side of the ravine on the Whittaker place, and 
across the two or three barren fields. The cabin 
stood in an oasis-like spot in the midst of this bar- 
renness, a tiny orchard of peach, apple, and wild- 
plum trees. Various sheds and log outhouses of 
rudest structure, — the handiwork of Zeb, — al- 
though out of repair, were clustered about it, and 
gave a homelikeness to the dull spot. 



50 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

There were evidences that some one took an In- 
terest in the humble dwelling; for the two win- 
dows of the cabin were clean, and draped with 
fresh white curtains of " factory," as they called 
white muslin. They were edged with an elaborate 
home-made lace knit on needles, and mutely testi- 
fied to the imperishable love of adornment in all 
of Eve's daughters. 

A great bunch of " pineys " stood by the door, 
and snowball bushes grew on either side of the 
garden gate that led into the lane. 

A shallow free-stone well, from which the water 
was drawn by a sweep, was near the kitchen door ; 
and above it grew two cone-like juniper trees, 
which shaded the little milk-house, with the vege- 
table pit, like a great grave, near by. 

The cabin proper had originally but one room, 
perhaps twenty feet square. On one side was a 
great chimney of sticks daubed with clay, and op- 
posite was a rude partition of wood which did not 
reach to the ceiling. The narrow room thus cut 
off was Lucetta's special apartment, or, to speak 
more exactly, one end of it was hers, for the other 
was religiously held as the spare room. Tightly 
wedged in each corner was a bed piled high with 
feathers ; and in Lucetta's was an old-fashioned 
chest of drawers of dark mahogany, the sole relic 
of some prosperous ancestor. Both beds were be- 
decked with valance and pillows profusely trimmed 
with lace, in the knitting of which Mrs. Whittaker 
whiled away the long winter days, and a home- 



THE WHITTAKERS 51 

made blue-and- white counterpane reached to the 
valance. These white muslin, lace-trimmed val- 
ances were not wholly for ornament, but served to 
hide the jars of home-made preserves, honey, dried 
corn, and even boxes of clothing, stowed away 
under the beds. 

The big room was a general sitting-room, and, 
though meagerly furnished, was kept neat and 
bright. The floor was covered with a gay rag car- 
pet. Against the partition, opposite the fireplace, 
was Mrs. Whittaker's bed, draj)ed and trimmed 
even more elaborately than the others, and in it 
she could be found most of the time, for she was 
a hopeless invalid, — " hypo " her neighbors ex- 
pressed it. There really was some foundation for 
her invalid state ; for at the birth of her third 
child she had suffered partial paralysis, and had 
never fully recovered, as one birth followed another 
rapidly. The death of all her children but the 
eldest fixed the habit of hypochondria; and she 
seldom left the house, her migrations being from 
her cushioned rocking-chair in the chimney-corner 
to her thick feather-bed. It was amazing that she 
had survived her life of inactivity so long, and it 
proved that originally she had been blessed with a 
strong constitution. In the neighborhood, sympa- 
thy for her had long been displaced by contemptu- 
ous pity. 

In one angle of the sitting-room stood a really 
handsome mahogany corner cupboard, which had 
been part of Mrs. Whittaker's mother's wedding 



52 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

portion, before she had come from Kentucky to the 
wilds of Indiana. Through its glass doors could 
be seen old green and blue dishes. A great chest 
of drawers with glass knobs stood near the window. 
The mantel above the fireplace was a rough board 
one, but it, too, was draped with a valance in keep- 
ing with the bed, and was further adorned by two 
tall brass candlesticks with brass snuffers and tray 
complete, a moon-faced clock, and a gorgeous pea- 
cock tail. There was also a row of suggestive 
vials of assorted sizes. Above all this array was 
a bracket of the antlers of a deer, — shot by Mrs. 
Whittaker's father in the " early day," — which 
held Zeb's rifle. 

In the winter Lucetta did all the cooking at the 
fireplace, but in summer she used a cooking-stove 
with a top fashioned like two steps, which was set 
up in the " lean-to " kitchen that Zeb, after years 
of procrastination, had been prevailed on to build ; 
for the Whittakers had lived on this spot for the 
twenty years since their marriage. True to the 
universal law governing such cases, the poorest 
farmer got the poorest farm ; and Zeb was the man 
of all men to illustrate this truism. He cultivated 
the few fields in the slackest manner. His corn 
and wheat were always the last planted and har- 
vested in the community. The kitchen garden, 
once ploughed, he turned over entirely to the care of 
his daughter. As the " lame and the lazy are al- 
ways provided for," — a saying Mrs. Bowles sneer- 
ingly applied to Zeb, — he managed to ward off 



THE WHITTAKERS 53 

starvation with the least possible labor. In tbis 
life, there seems to be a certain amount of homely 
duty apportioned to each person, which, if shirked, 
is only added to that of another who is faithful in 
the performance of his own share. It does not 
follow that because it is evaded by the one, it is not 
exacted of another to the uttermost. 

Zeb had escaped, as nearly as man can, his share 
of the curse of Eden ; he never worked hard enough 
to sweat, nor earned enough to keep him in bread. 
Not so the women of his household : his wife had 
brought forth many children in sorrow, and the 
bread he ate was from the sweat of his daughter's 
brow. 

He ploughed and harrowed the fields, only because 
the girl was not strong enough, but she followed 
patiently in the furrows dropping the corn, which 
later she helped hoe, and in autumn gathered and 
" shucked." She cut the potatoes and planted 
them, and even followed after the sickle and bun- 
dled the wheat that Zeb leisurely cut. He had 
amazing faith in that Providence which provides 
for the idler, and planted only so much of a crop as 
woidd serve his needs till the next harvest, never 
giving thought to what a year might bring forth in 
the way of droughts or floods. 

There was, however, a finer side to Zeb's nature, 
which showed itself in the exceeding neatness of 
his attire of common blue jeans. His going-abroad 
coat — of the shad-belly pattern — was a well-fit- 
ting one, adorned with bright brass buttons ; his 



54 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

trousers were shapely, and never bagged at the 
knees. Another of his higher traits was his love 
for his fiddle, on which he played with remarkable 
taste and feeling for one entirely untutored. With 
the sensitiveness of an artist, he shrank from mis- 
appreciation and indifference, and was shy of play- 
ing on it before people who did not love it as truly 
as he. Then, too, he was noted for his skill in or- 
namenting rough, home-made wagon beds, — which, 
it is needless to say, he had no part in making, — 
and was thought to have a nice taste in colors ; 
his scrolls and flowers were the wonder and delight 
of his neighbors, who sought his services in that 
line. Somewhere back in Zeb's ancestral tree had 
flourished an artist, whose genius had filtered down 
through many generations to this humble scion, 
and showed itself paradoxically in bigger brushes 
and paint-pots. 

Lucetta had mental and moral qualities — per- 
haps owing to a strong hereditary strain dormant 
in her parents — which neither her father nor her 
mother manifested. She had been forced gradually 
to assume responsibilities which were rightly theirs, 
thus in some measure reversing the attitudes of 
parent and child. Cut off by circumstances from 
intimate association with her neighbors, she was 
thrown much on her own resources. She would 
not accept the meagre hospitality of the community, 
because she could not in any way return it. Lack 
of companionship created the habit of introspection, 
and she became serious, thoughtful, and sedate be- 



THE WHITTAKERS 55 

yond her years, and keenly alive to tlie marvelous- 
ness of common things about her. Her only real 
pleasure was drawn from a knowledge of the plants 
which grew in the ravine, and of the insects she 
fought in the kitchen garden, whose peculiarities 
and habits she knew better than those of her 
neighbors. She cherished aspirations to be and 
do more than her present life promised, but she 
kept her own counsel. It was not until the coming 
of Miss Abbot, the new teacher, that the first puff 
of destiny blew on this spark of ambition smoulder- 
ing in her soul, like fire in punk that needs but a 
breath to set it aglow. 

Such ambition in women is pitiful, since it is so 
rarely realized. For conscience throttles it in favor 
of a lowly but imperative duty, which neither ele- 
vates the performer nor rouses one whit of grati- 
tude in those for whom the sacrifice is made, and 
by whom it is accepted as a matter of course. 

When Miss Abbot came into the neig-hborhood, 
chance threw her and Lucetta together, and, not- 
withstanding twenty years' disparity in age, a 
friendship grew up between them. 

It was then the custom in all the district schools 
of Indiana for the teacher to act as janitor, or 
pay for such service out of his own pocket. Miss 
Abbot had been told she might possibly get Zeb 
Whittaker to sweep out and build fires at the 
school-house, as it was not very far from his cabin. 
Zeb declined, but Lucetta offered to do the work 
in return for lessons in algebra, history, and gram- 



56 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

mar, just after school, three evenings in the week. 
Miss Abbot became deeply interested in her, and 
Liicetta proved an apt pupil, doing so well that 
she hoped by next autumn to be able to secure a 
license and herself become a teacher, which was 
her cherished ambition. She saw, in the realiza- 
tion of her hopes, help and comforts for her sickly 
mother which she could not now command. She 
had long since ceased to expect anything of the 
rightful head of the family, and rarely gave a 
thought to his indolence, but took it as a matter of 
course ; it was as much a part of his character as 
his good-nature. 

Miss Abbot was a woman of strong character, 
sensible, independent, and fearless. She was a 
granddaughter of one of the educational pioneers 
of the State, who had come out from the East and 
founded a college in the heart of the primeval 
forest girdling the tiny settlement of Crofton. 
She possessed the qualities of her sire, pluck and 
perseverance, and was thoroughly well educated. 
Like him, she was an abolitionist of the blackest 
hue, but though she did not hide the fact, neither 
did she boast of it; and, being gifted with tact, 
she gave no offense even in Riffle Township, where 
such opinions were hotly opposed. She came into 
Lucetta's arid life, like a refreshing rain in the 
midst of a drought, at the moment of her greatest 
need. 

Of late, Zeb had been neglecting his work even 
more than usual, and it was only by repeated urg- 



THE WHITTAKERS 57 

ing that Lucetta moved him to break the ground 
for corn and for her garden, which provided the 
greater part of tbgir food for the summer. 

Instead of going to bed at nightfall as formerly, 
he left the house soon after supper and returned 
very late, and would sullenly evade their question- 
ing as to his nocturnal jaunts. 

For days after the meeting at Harv Wilson's 
cabin, Zeb sat over the fire brooding. He was one 
of those nerveless men that collapse mentally and 
physically when anything like responsibility falls 
upon them. During those hours of self-communion 
he was conscience-smitten ; tortured by cowardly 
fears, he suffered to the depths of his shallow, fal- 
tering soul. But he was not clever enough to see 
that he had been the victim in the dealing of the 
lot, not inventive enough to evade it, nor energetic 
enough to run away. Like the craven he was, he 
made the innocent women of his household, igno- 
rant of its cause, suffer with him, during the inter- 
val between the allotment and fulfillment of his 
terrible duty. Members of the " Vestibule " were 
the dupes and tools of the three higher orders of 
the Knights of the Golden Circle, and were not 
taken into confidence further than to make them 
useful. The real intentions and purposes of the 
higher degrees they never knew. They were in- 
timidated by vague threats of vengeance, and pla- 
cated by specious promises, to make them faithful 
and obedient. 

A glimmering of the baseness of his ingratitude 



58 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

penetrated Zeb's feeble brain, as the heinousness 
of such a crime did not ; for Harv had inspired in 
him a fanatical ardor for " the cause," and he was 
not capable of more than one impression at a time. 
Abner Neal had always been his benefactor, and, 
when no one else would, he had accepted him as a 
tenant, and times without number had forgiven 
him his debt for the rent : he had often furnished 
him with the necessaries of life for the sake of his 
" women folks," before Lucetta was old enough to 
realize the shamefulness of his improvidence and 
put an end to it. But Abner Neal was a Union 
man, and had incurred the enmity of the order, and 
Zeb was to be the instrument of his punishment. 

On this particular evening, early in May, Zeb 
sat tilted forward on the front legs of his splint- 
bottomed chair, huddling over the fire, wherein 
smouldered a backlog, now a mass of fleecy gray 
ashes that seemed always moving, under which, 
whenever a puff of wind blew the ashes aside, 
could be seen the heart of fire. He was slowly 
cracking each joint of his long bony fingers, the 
only thing he ever did industriously, and ruminat- 
ing intently. As a rule, Lucetta gave little heed 
to his laggard ways, but his pale, blank eyes, in 
which vacancy usually dwelt, now had a look of 
distress that attracted her notice as he occasionally 
lifted them to her face. His nature was not strong 
enough to bear his burden alone, and Lucetta felt 
from this new expression that he was mutely ask- 
ing for help. 



THE WHITTAKERS 59 

" Pappy," she asked, " what 's the matter ? Are 
you ailin' ? " 

" Not perticaler, but then I don't feel right 
peart." 

After a pause he asked, " Lucetty, do you know 
what ' Arcturus ' is ? " 

" Yes, Pappy, Arcturus is the name of a star ; it 
means ' The Bear's Guard,' and it 's called that 
because it 's near The Great Bear, — a group of 
stars, you know, — and guards it. But what a 
queer question. Pappy ! " 

He ignored her surprise and said : " Means a 
guard, does it ? Well, mebby so," shaking his 
head doubtfully, " mebby so. But what the devil 
does" — and he stopped suddenly, realizing that 
he was talking aloud, after the habit of people 
much alone. 

"Did the teacher learn you all that, Lucetty? 
She knows a heap, don't she ? " he asked, with an 
attempt at sprightliness and interest that did not 
deceive the girl, nor divert her attention from the 
glimpse she had of his trouble, betrayed by this 
unusual question. It at once aroused her suspicion, 
and made her anxious. Far more intelligent than 
he, she was able to deduce reasons and form opinions 
with surprising correctness. 

The news of the call of the President for more 
men, and of the impending draft, had reached her 
in the weekly newspaper which Miss Abbot took, 
the only one except Abner Neal's that came to the 
community. She had heard, too, of the Order of 



60 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

the Knights of the Golden Circle, but of their pre- 
sence in the township she had not the slightest 
suspicion. They had not yet begun that series of 
petty crimes and flagrant lawlessness that harassed 
the Commonwealth so greatly. Why the prospec- 
tive draft should distress her father she could not 
understand ; for their township would escape, as 
the Union men of both parties had volunteered 
and filled its quota. 

She watched him warily as she prepared their 
early supper, and when he ate sparingly of the 
homely meal of cold greens, young onions, corn- 
bread, and rhubarb pie, — all favorite dishes with 
him, — she was convinced something more than 
usual was amiss. 

Toward dusk he grew more nervous, and took 
his cap off its peg and said : — 

" Well, Lucetty, I 've got to go over to the 
blacksmith shop — to see about — a " — (he hesi- 
tated, his dull wits unused to inventing excuses) 
— " to see about mendin' the ploughshare." 

Lucetta well knew it was sticking in the furrow 
intact. 

" It seems to me it would do just as well to take 
it to him to-morrow, seeing he don't work nights." 

Made suspicious through his fears, he regarded 
this innocent speech as an intentional sneer. 

"That's none o' your business, Lucetty. You 
ain't got no right to talk to your pap that-a-way." 

He took down his gun and departed, trembling 
from his unusual outbreak. He rarely spoke in 



THE WHITTAKERS 61 

anger to Lucetta, and she wonderingly watched 
him taking the short cut across the ravine to the 
smithy, which lay half a mile south on the Kidgely 
road. 

" What ails him, I wonder ? Something 's come 
over him, certain." 

" He 's just like all men-folkses," observed her 
mother in a peevish little voice, from the depths 
of her rocking-chair. " When they git a chance, 
they 're just as gosterin' and masterful as they can 
be. Him a-goin' off that-a-way, and me a feelin' 
that bad with such a misery in my stummick ! " 
and she moaned in self-pity. 

Lucetta, accustomed to such complaints, asked 
absently from the doorway : — 

" Are you feelin' poorly, mammy ? " 

She had great sympathy for her mother, and 
believed devoutly in all her aches and pains. She 
went quickly to her, when a groan was her only 
answer. 

" Do you want your ginseng bitters, or boneset 
tea, mammy? " she asked solicitously. 

Mrs. Whittaker had eaten heartily of their heavy 
supper, her not infrequent habit, notwithstanding 
her invalid state, and, writhing in real pain now, 
groaned out : — 

" Oh, such a misery ! " 

Lucetta hastily hung the kettle on the crane, 
and threw chips on the drowsing tire to heat water, 
and she soon made ready the simple remedies she 
used in such attacks. But they brought no relief, 



62 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

all failed now, and Lucetta was really alarmed as 
the hours passed and her mother became paler and 
more deathly sick. 

- When the clock struck eleven, Zeb had not 
returned, and Lucetta said : — 

" Mammy, I 've done all I can. Do you think 
you 'd be afraid to stay alone while I run over 
to Rush's to get some one to go for the doctor? 
Maybe I '11 have to go on to Ridgely myself, if 
Alec ain't home, but I '11 get Mrs. Eush to stay 
with you if I do." 

Her mother nodded an assent, and the girl 
swiftly left the house, tying on her sun-bonnet. 
The moon was on the wane, and gave but little light 
to brighten her path through the fields. 

On reaching Rush's, Lucetta found no men there, 
but Mrs. Rush, usually an arrant coward, was 
moved to pity by the girl's anxiety, — which from 
long habit she thought quite unnecessary, — and 
went back with her to stay with her mother, while 
Lucetta continued on her errand alone. 



CHAPTER VIII 

"THE LONE star" 

LucETTA took the path down the ravine, and, 
when she reached the place where her canoe was 
tied up, quickly unfastened it and poled off into 
mid-stream. In that neighborhood, where the 
farms lay along the creek, a very common mode of 
travel was by canoes, which were in as constant 
use for locomotion as horses. Every family owned 
one or more; even the children were skilled in 
handling them, a very delicate operation. 

Lucetta stood in the middle, tall and straight, 
dipping her long paddle deftly and evenly. She 
was soon in the strong current, and it swept her 
along so rapidly that it took little effort on her 
part except to keep off the huge boulders, which 
now and then stuck their gray crowns out of the 
water. 

The stream ran between rolling fields on one 
hand and high bluffs, broken at frequent intervals 
by ravines, on the other. The bluffs were black 
in the shadow of the balsam and pine. The night 
was very silent, except for the recurring screech 
of an owl, which sounded sadly, or when a frog 
shrieked in dismay as it plunged from a boulder 



64 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

mid-stream ; and the water swung along with a 
deep cadence, like a low-pitched human voice, hush- 
ing the finer silvery tones of the spring branches 
that emptied into it. None of these night sounds 
disturbed Lucetta, for to her they were as familiar 
as the voices of friends. The " old moon," hung 
in a sky full of cloud-hummocks, was hardly risen 
to the treetops ; its light fell feebly, scarcely pier- 
cing through them to the shadowed stream. But 
Lucetta knew its channel as well in the dark as in 
the light, for it was the shortest route to the village? 
and she nearly always made use of it. After pad- 
dling two miles down-stream, she made a landing 
above the riffle, at the ford of the Kidgely road, 
to take the path on the edge of the wood, which 
led to the village, still a half mile away, where the 
doctor lived. 

As she clambered up the short, steep bank into 
the wood, the clouds that had been obscuring the 
sky suddenly cleared, and, with head up in the effort 
of reaching the summit, she saw a gleam of some- 
thing bright in the top of an oak-tree that stood 
somewhat apart from the rest of the forest, where 
it had been thinned to let in the sunshine along 
the edge of a wheat field. At any other time her 
curiosity would have been aroused to learn the 
cause of that mysterious shining, but now anxiety 
swallowed up every other feeling. She took the 
foot-path just within the wood, close by the fence 
that bounded the field. In the middle of the wood 
the night noises reasserted themselves, dispelling 



" THE LONE STAR " 65 

Ler distress, and filling her with nervous dread of 
she knew not what, a dread that swiftly turned to 
fear when an appalling cry broke the silence, seem- 
ing to come from the black depths beyond her. 
The dull seesawing of crickets, the varied croak- 
ing of frogs, the shuddering cry of the lich-owl, 
have no greater terrors for a country girl than the 
homely crow of cocks, which were now telling the 
hour from farmstead to farmstead. But this cry, 
which seemed that of neither man nor brute, stopped 
her blood with a clutch at her heart, and stayed 
her feet on the path. 

It wailed out weirdly, not loud, but far-reach- 
ing:— 

" O— a— k— houn ! " 

" What is it ? What is it ? " she whispered, 
appealing to that stronger self to which we go for 
cheer or courage when our every-day seK is baffled 
and discomfited. Some instinct warned her of 
danger and suggested hiding. A few yards ahead 
of her, in a corner, on both sides of the rail fence, 
a tangle of wild-gooseberry bushes grew, on which 
the young leaves were just putting forth. As she 
stood that instant in the path, holding counsel 
with herself, the cry was repeated many times, far 
and faint, from all directions. She made her 
way swiftly to the clump of bushes, and, creeping 
behind this prickly covert into the fence corner, 
waited for a revelation, or a return of tranquillity. 
The moon was now bright overhead. Its marred 
proportions added to the mournfulness of the night, 



66 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

and afforded a mild illumination to tlie path and 
the trees bordering it, but made the dense shade of 
those beyond her seem blacker by contrast. 

She was hardly hidden when a man came 
quickly and noiselessly down the path in the direc- 
tion to which she was bound ; others, from the 
creek ; three or four appeared from the gloom of 
the wood, until a company of nearly a dozen had 
gathered under the great oak where the strange 
light glittered. One, who seemed to be the leader 
of this mysterious band, shifted his position so that 
the moonlight fell on his face, and Lucetta saw 
Harv Wilson. 

" What can it mean ? Why do they come here 
in the night ? " she said to herself. 

Then she saw his companions go through singu- 
lar motions with hands and arms and feet, and 
utter strange gibberish. The words she could not 
hear distinctly, but the gestures she coidd easily 
follow, especially those of Harv Wilson, who stood 
a little apart. He placed the heel of his right foot 
in the hollow of the left, and the right hand under 
the left arm ; then, changing the position of his 
arms, folded them and placed the four fingers of 
his left hand on the right arm, and those of the 
right hand on the left arm, with serious gravity, in 
perfect silence. He was imitated by all present 
except one solitary spectator. Then, with a wave 
of his arm, Harv dismissed them into the dej^ths of 
the woods, except the looker-on. He engaged him 
in a pantomime somewhat different. Each took the 



"THE LONE STAR" 67 

other's right hand In an ordinary grip, and placed 
the left hand on the other's breast ; then shifted 
the right hand to the other's wrist, and straightened 
the thumb out on it. The wind, veering, carried 
to her words uttered in Harv's coarse voice, which, 
in attempting to subdue, he made more distinct. 
" If I go to the east " — he said and paused, 
while another voice of finer timbre completed the 
sentence, — "I will go to the west. Let there be 
no strife " — he, too, abruptly stopped, and Harv 
took it up, " between mine and thine — (pause) — 
" for we," resumed the other voice, " be brethren," 
with strong emphasis on "be." 

" Resistance to tyrants," said Harv, — " is obe- 
dience to God," the other man concluded, which 
seemed to satisfy Harv, for with that the colloquy 
ended. 

They set out to follow their companions into the 
woods, and the miknown man lifted his hat from 
his head and wiped his brow with a dark handker- 
chief. As he did so, his features were revealed 
clearly enough for her to see that they were unfa- 
miliar. 

There was a slight twittering in the bushes, as 
of birds disturbed in sleep, and all was still. With 
amazement and dread Lucetta witnessed this mys- 
terious rite under the oak-tree. She had beheld a 
dozen men engaged in this ceremony, and had seen 
the faces of but two, and, if called upon to do 
so, could have identified Harv's only. The others 
turned their backs, as if intentionally hiding their 



68 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

faces. She had no inkling of the strange scene, 
but, knowing well the lawless character of Harv 
Wilson, was convinced it boded nothing good. It 
was with profound relief she welcomed the silence 
that proved them out of hearing, but it was with a 
thrill of greater terror that she saw a sturdy, boy- 
ish figure rise from the field-side of her ambush, 
leap the fence, and noiselessly follow Harv and his 
comrades into the darkness. 

Lucetta waited a short time, in affrighted sur- 
prise, to be certain she was unobserved, then 
climbed into the field, to have the fence for a bar- 
rier between her and any other mysterious thing 
that might cross her path, and crouchingly made 
her way to the road, running swiftly. 

When she reached the doctor's home she found 
he was out, and left word for him, on his return, 
to come as quickly as possible. She took no one 
into her confidence in regard to her strange experi- 
ence, but hastily retraced her steps homeward by 
the same wood-path, not without rigors of fear. 
She reached the canoe unmolested, and was unloos- 
ing it, when she almost shrieked aloud as a voice 
called softly : — 

" Hold on there ! " and a man came hastily 
down the shallow bank from the willows where he 
had been under cover. 

" Don't be frightened ! Are n't you Lucy ? " 
" Yes," she answered sharply, " but you " ? — 
" Don't you know my voice ? It 's Frank." 
She had not seen Frank since his return on a 



"THE LONE STAR" 69 

furlough nearly a month ago, except at the church 
the day of the violent scene. 

"How did you come here at this time of night? " 
she asked, her voice vibrating nervously. 

" That 's what I 've got to know from you," he 
said, by way of reply, as he righted the canoe. 
" Step in," he said, almost as if giving a military 
command. " It '11 be safer to talk in the canoe. 
I 'U paddle her." 

Lucetta had not recovered her composure enough 
to resist, and mechanically obeyed. Frank him- 
self stepped in, and, standing lusty and upright, 
pushed off, exerting all his strength against the 
opposing current. When they were out of sight 
and beyond hearing of any chance loiterer, he said 
earnestly : — 

" Lucy, do you love your State, and do you care 
for the boys in blue ? " He paused an instant, but, 
before she could reply, continued : " If you do, 
don't speak a word to any one of what you have 
seen to-night till I ask you." 

" Why shoidd n't I ? " she inquired wonderingly. 

" It is of the greatest imjjortance it should n't 
be known. There are reasons that I cannot ex- 
plain, and if you tell now you 'd be worse than a 
traitor. Give me your promise," he demanded 
earnestly. 

" I promise, Frank." 

He paddled strongly against the brawling cur- 
rent, impeded by a big boulder, and, when in 
smoother water, pulled in to the shore to a dark 



70 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

spot under the over-hanging evergreens, and lay to 
a moment. 

" Now, Lucy, tell me what brought you out at 
such an hour." 

She told him, and added urgently, " Oh, Frank, 
let us go. Poor mammy needs me." 

Frank was as skeptical as every one else in re- 
gard to "mammy," and made no reply to her 
appeal. 

" I saw you coming down the path," he said, 
" and never was more surprised in my life, for I 
thought only men were in it. But there 's more 
than one woman, I find." 

" In what, Frank ? " 

" Never you mind. I can't tell you now, Lucy. 
I 'm as good as on oath not to. You '11 know 
soon enough. Things are coming to pass within 
the next two or three months, in this old Hoosier 
State, that will surprise you." 

With a few sturdy strokes, the canoe was again 
in mid-stream, and soon after tied up at its own 
landing. 



CHAPTER IX 

MRS. WHITTAKER VINDICATED 

For once, Mrs. Whittaker's illness proved to be 
real. When Lucetta reached home, she found her 
mother attended only by Mrs. Rush. Zeb had not 
yet returned from his mysterious absence, but came 
shortly, and was stunned into even greater useless- 
ness by his wife's serious state. When the doctor 
arrived, he found his patient in a condition in 
which his ministerings availed nothing, and before 
morning Mrs. Whittaker vindicated her claim to 
being an invalid by dying. 

The news of her death spread about the neigh- 
borhood with amazing speed, and, strangely enough, 
was a shock to the people, who had been in the 
habit of saying, in regard to her ailments, " A 
creaking door hangs longest." The women has- 
tened to offer their help, which had been so rarely 
proffered in her lifetime, and with which Lucetta 
would gladly have dispensed. There was an un- 
written law against her performing the last offices 
for the dead. It was thought imfitting that she 
should straighten the lifeless limbs whose staff 
and stay she had been so long; should fold the 
smooth hands in whose tender care hers had been 



72 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

roughened ; should comb the long hair, still so 
bright and abundant, which, with daughterly pride, 
she had kept tidy and beautiful ; should enrobe 
for the last time that paralyzed body she had 
dressed for years as faithfully as a mother tends 
her babe. None of these services were seemly 
now, and Lucetta could not but reflect bitterly on 
the display of tardy kindness that had forced her 
to yield them into strangers' hands. It was with 
pain that she resigned herself to unkind custom to 
sit idly apart in her tiny bedroom. 

The sound of women's voices, subdued but cheer- 
ful, and the clatter of cooking utensils, reached 
her there, and Lucetta realized sadly there was no 
grief in any heart but her own. She sorrowed for 
the dead, not as a child for a mother, but as a 
mother over a helpless creature, who, for some phy- 
sical or mental lack, is left to her sole cherishing, 
after the cruel wont of mankind. From childhood, 
Lucetta had assvuned the burdens of that feeble, 
complaining mother, and indulged her childish 
whims. The strongest interest of the woman's life 
was " herb doctorin'," and it was among Lucetta's 
greatest pleasures, so pitifully few, to secure mate- 
rials for her decoctions. As soon as the sap crept 
upward in the spring, she dug the sassafras root, 
and later stripped the tender green spicewood 
twigs of their bark to make her fragrant teas and 
coax a sickly appetite. From the crystal thread 
of the stream in the ravine, she gathered sweet, 
cool-breathed mints, and she despoiled the boggy 



MRS. WHITTAKER VINDICATED 73 

places of calamus. She plucked the odorous pen- 
nyroyal from under the beeches in the wood, and 
hunted in seclnded spots for the rare ginseng; 
found " boneset " and sarsaparilla for her bitters ; 
dried bunches of catnip and hoarhound; and in 
August picked the coral partridge-berries. When 
the leaves fell in the autumn, she climbed the 
steep sunny side of the ravine to rob the sumach 
of its flaming seed-cones, and from its near neigh- 
bor, the wahoo, pillaged the pink twin-capsided 
berries. She planted herbs in her garden, sage 
and thyme, camomile and rue, for her use. These 
she garnered for winter and stored in the shallow 
loft above the sitting-room, till the cabin reeked 
with mingled odors of roots and herbs. All were 
beneficent agents which ministered to both mother 
and daughter, though in widely different ways. 
Lucetta was thus brought into a close, earnest 
study of nature ; and a mind so occupied has no 
room for sordid thoughts or petty schemings, for 
Nature washes its tablets clean with her dews and 
showers, and writes on it the story of her mysteri- 
ous enchantments. 

Lucetta was so familiar with the haunts and 
growth of all these homely simples that in later 
years they furnished a sort of humble calendar to 
her mother's memory. The lengthening days of 
February reminded her of sassafras time ; if she 
trod on mint and crushed from it a pungent breath, 
her thoughts flew back to those bygone days ; and 
so throughout the year to autumn's last offering. 



74 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

The day of the funeral fell on Sunday, and was 
one of unusual activity for the self-constituted 
helpers, who, without realizing it, were making it 
a day of recreation. It was a time of universal 
leisure ; funeral guests would come from far and 
near, and must be fed. In the early morning 
hours, bustling sounds reached Lucetta, and brought 
with them the mortifying conviction that the neigh- 
bors must have brought the provision for the feast 
from their own homes. She surmised that the fine 
cloth to be used on the table had been borrowed 
from "Neal's folks," who were known to possess 
the best in the neighborhood. 

The women inspected Lucetta's wardrobe, and 
openly criticised its paucity and unfitness for the 
occasion ; but finally settled among themselves that 
her brown delaine would do to wear to the funeral, 
if some one would lend her a black shawl and a 
hat, for she possessed only a hood and sun-bonnet. 
The one was borrowed from Mrs. Rush, the other 
from Liddy Ann Collins. 

During the dreary funeral services, the women 
crowded into the little sitting-room "to see how 
the mourners took it," for they had more curi- 
osity than sympathy. The men found seats on the 
top of the garden fence, and in subdued voices 
talked of their spring work, and speculated as 
to when the draft would begin, and who would be 
the poUing officer in Honey Creek Township, till 
the discussion grew so heated they lost sight of the 
occasion; the mention of the draft in Riffle or 



MRS. WHITTAKER VINDICATED 75 

Honey Creek townships was like shaking a red rag 
before a bull. 

It was a relief to Lucetta's sensitive nature 
when the clay effigy of what had been her lifelong 
care was laid away forever, — when the feast was 
eaten and these unwelcome guests were gone. 

Her only comfort had been found in the kind- 
ness of Miss Abbot during all these trying hours ; 
her after-impression of the time was one of painful 
confusion. 

The day following the funeral Lucetta keenly 
realized her loss, as she went about the task of re- 
storing order to the house. One by one she emp- 
tied the bottles of nostrums, — the kettle of bone- 
set tea that had been forgotten, the jug of bitters 
by the hearth, — and often in imagination heard 
the querulous voice calling her to do some needless 
errand. She started at the emptiness of the deep, 
wooden rocking-chair, as if she saw a shrunken, 
ghostly form among its pillows. Her day of servi- 
tude was over ; the work of her hands and heart 
was taken from her. 

But who can measure her debt to that feeble 
mother, or know how greatly she was beholden to 
her for the development of the virtues of patience 
and self-sacrifice, endurance and courage, and for 
the self-reliance which was afterward so painfully 
tested ? Even her love of knowledge, cramped by 
circumstance, sprang into lustier life because of 
enforced restraint. 

Lucetta's was one of those minds that seem the 



76 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

florescence of a commonplace race. Long denied 
the opportunity for improvement and culture, she 
had already reached the time when her intellect 
demanded more than it could obtain in her present 
mode of life. Then fortune sent her the plain, 
homely spinster school-teacher. In her Lucetta 
found the friend she needed, and for two troubled 
winters she had studied with her so faithfully that 
she had reached with infinite difficulty the 'heights 
of Parnassus where algebra and history dwelt, to 
the awe and disapproval of the neighbors. They 
regarded such ambition in " weemen " as sinful, 
and indulged in spiteful and slighting speeches 
concerning her audacious aspirations, while feeling 
a secret pride in her success as reflecting credit 
on them locally. But Mrs. Bowles had recognized 
something different in her from the girls in the 
neighborhood, and had said : — 

" You need n't talk ! you can't balk Nature ! 
The girl 's got it in her and it 's bound to come 
out, like the measles, or kill her. But where she 
gets it from I can't see, with such folks ! It 's like 
goin' to a goat's house for wool ! " 

On Monday night following the funeral, when 
Miss Abbot came to her and asked her to take 
her to board, she did a kinder thing even than she 
had intended, and took down the first rail in the 
" gap " that led Lucetta out from the barren 
ground of her old existence into the broad, fertile 
fields of the new. 

Life is a series of adjustments to varying condi- 



MRS. WHITTAKER VINDICATED 77 

tions. Lucetta gladly consented, and the next day 
the cabinet organ found a place in the living-room, 
the schoolmistress was put into possession of the 
"spare-room" end of the little long bedroom, and 
the new life had begun. 



CHAPTER X 

THE POLLING OFFICER 

Two days after Mrs. Whittaker's funeral, it was 
known the length and breadth of the township that 
polling for the draft had begun, in compliance 
with the call of the President for 300,000 men. It 
had been an inevitable measure, which was required 
to fill the places of those whose term of enlistment 
had exjiired. In some sections of Indiana, the 
spirit of opposition to the draft was so strong that 
only a leader was needed to organize the malcon- 
tents and encourage them to break into open vio- 
lence ; failing which, individuals wreaked it on the 
man appointed to the dangerous work of polling. 
Nowhere was this spii'it more bitter than in Riffle 
and Honey Creek townshiijs, which lay adjacent, 
and whose eligible loyal men were already in the 
service. Those in authority in the county were 
perfectly aware of the fact, and for that reason, 
when the officer started on his rounds, very few in 
Riffle Township knew who had been selected for 
the dangerous mission. In the month he had been 
at home, Frank had not sufficiently recovered from 
the hardships of Andersonville to rejoin his regi- 
ment, and, at his earnest solicitation, he had been 



THE POLLING OFFICER 79 

given tlie appointment of polling officer for these 
two disaffected townships. 

When rumors of a draft settled into a certainty, 
its opponents throughout the State were roused to 
frenzy : secret meetings of the Knights and their 
sympathizers were held, and a call was made for a 
convention at the capital, ostensibly in the name of 
the Democratic party ; in reality, by the Knights of 
the Golden Circle. Harv Wilson and Jake Zer- 
fus, who had represented respectively the Temples 
in Honey Creek and Riffle townships, had not yet 
reported the ludicrous outcome of this convention, 
which was put to rout in the midst of seditious 
utterances, insidious boasts, and malignant threats, 
which had been made possible by the acts of a 
Supreme Court that had hampered the governor in 
every way known to legal chicanery and personal 
opposition. Nor had this retired community yet 
read of the battle of Pogue's Run, that farcical and 
bloodless engagement wherein those Knights, who 
had not fled in a panic, surrendered to a company 
of volunteers all the arms they had not hidden 
in the women's skirts, or thrown into the classic 
" Run." 

It was known in every Temple of the State, 
however, that their idol, Vallandigham, had been 
ignominiously sent through the lines, and that the 
secessionists had repudiated him, so that he had 
retreated to the protecting soil of Canada, there to 
send out his manifestoes as Supreme Commander, 
and, there unmolested, to work out his schemes. 



80 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

It was a lovely morning in early June, — the 
wheat was beginning to head ; the corn, which had 
been planted earliest, was already peeping up in 
small, sharp blades ; the grass in the fence corners 
was so high it would have furnished a snug covert 
for little boys playing at hide-and-seek, were such 
impious pranks permitted in the fields. 

Abner Neal's cornfield, a goodly one of forty 
acres, lay beside a wheat-field nearly as large ; 
both stretched from the Crofton road almost to the 
creek. The Neal home-farm was a tract of three 
hundred acres, and the house lay to the northeast 
of these fields ; one corner of it was cut across by 
the Honey Creek, on which stood the Whittaker 
cabin, which could also be seen from this point. 
When a canoe could not be used, the people took 
to the foot-paths through the fields, which, like the 
British yeomanry, they considered as much theirs 
as the highway itself, and no one ever questioned 
their right to use them. They were left open to 
the public, like the English by-paths, by right of 
long holding, and many of them were the original 
Indian trails. Such a path ran along the border 
of the Neal cornfield through the wheat-field to 
the house. Of late it was seldom trodden, for 
political differences had raised bitter rancor among 
neighbors. As the Neals were outspoken Union- 
ists, and nearly every one in the vicinity of the 
opposite creed politically, they were not visited, 
except by a few " War Democrats," who were 
hated as renegades, even more than the Unionists, 



THE POLLING OFFICER 81 

by the third and stronger party, called " Butter- 
nuts " or " Copperheads." These last, by reason 
of their superior numbers, and the machinations of 
such men as Harv Wilson, had grown bold and 
insolent, and openly made coarse and malignant 
threats. The results of this malevolence were to 
bring the small remnant of Union men and War 
Democrats into closer affiliation for mutual help 
and protection if need be, and the organization of 
the Home Guard. 

Frank had set out early on his rounds, and found 
angry or dispirited groups discussing the polling, 
and it was difficult to get names of eligible men 
under such conditions. 

It was not without serious misgivings that 
Frank's parents had seen him begin the work of 
enrollment, for they knew the temper of their 
neighbors better than he, and dreaded something 
worse than insult. He, however, felt no fear, for 
he was a daring, reckless fellow, and familiarity 
with real danger made him contemptuous of their 
threats. He forgot that the foe in ambush is dead- 
lier than an open enemy. He trusted to the fact 
that he had been reared among them to save him 
from personal violence. But in any case he had 
resolved to do his whole duty, — a lesson he had 
learned on battle-fields, on long marches, and in 
camp. 

It can hardly be said that Frank had been ac- 
tuated by the highest patriotism when he had 
enlisted the day after his graduation. A whirl of 



82 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

excitement had swept over the college, and nearly 
depleted it. One of Frank's classmates had raised 
a company, and the entire senior class had dis- 
tinguished itself on Commencement Day by laying 
aside the diploma and taking up the musket. 

Frank had gone into the war thinking it a matter 
of a few months, as did most raw recruits on both 
sides. Vainglorious, self-confident, chafing under 
restraint of the authority of his superior officer, 
who was his college chum, he longed to burst into 
the fray undisciplined by drill, certain of victory, 
— forgetting that his foe was of the same blood, 
the same mind, the same desires, though not of a 
common cause. Long months of discouragement 
and defeat had taught him at length a soldier's 
duty ; he had learned thoroughly the hardships of 
war. With two years' service had come a full 
realization of all that the nation had at stake, and 
how fierce would be the struggle to save it. En- 
thusiasm yielded to a stubborn determination to 
conquer or die, — " to fight to the last ditch," 
with that dogged persistence of the Anglo-Saxon 
which never lets him know when he is beaten ; a 
spirit which prolonged the struggle between the 
opposing armies of the same race in the Civil War. 

On a gentle slope in the road running beside 
Abner Neal's cornfield, three coffee-nut trees tow- 
ered like campaniles capped with belfries of flut- 
tering greenery, where the oriole swung its nest 
and played at bell-ringer, and the rain-crow tolled 
its solemn note before a storm. These noble trees 



THE POLLING OFFICER 83 

had been exiled from the woods, gashed by hollows 
and dark with coppice, that skirted the opposite 
side of the road. Their feathery tops cast a circle 
of shade many feet to the westward, but gave little 
shelter to a small group of men gathered there, 
talking eagerly together, and with some heat, as 
was shown by their disturbed countenances. At 
the far end of the cornfield, Abner Neal's farm- 
hand, Sam Truax, was starting in on his third fur- 
row ; early as it was, he had already crossed the 
field and back again. Not far from him stood 
Abner Neal himself, leaning over the fence inspect- 
ing his wheat, which was heading, and speculating 
how soon he would be able to cut it. Both were 
within calling distance of the road, but out of sight 
of it owing to the rolling nature of the field. Two 
or three rods down the furrow would bring Sam to 
the top of the rise, and into full view of the men 
on the road. 

Along this field-path Lucetta was walking, com- 
ing from Neal's, where she had gone to return the 
table-cloth ; for the neighbors who had taken the 
liberty, without consulting her, to borrow many 
things to grace the funeral feast, had not been 
equally ready to return them. The men under the 
coffee-nut trees were Jim Swazey, Mick Gavin 
(who owned thirty acres of bottom-land adjoining 
Neal's, and the rough wood-lot at hand), and Dan 
Cruze, a farmer who lived on Buck Creek. They 
were looking down the road, and their backs were 
toward Lucetta, so that they were not aware of 



84 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

her presence. Nearly the length of the field lay- 
between her and Sam Truax and Abner Neal. As 
she was about to climb the fence separating her 
from the road, she caught sight of a figure coming 
toward them, which the men were watching, and 
she heard Jim Swazey say vindictively : — 

" You 've got to get that book away from him if 
you have to kill him. Them 's Harv's orders." 

Lucetta dropped into the fence corner and 
waited, in a quandary, not knowing what she 
should do. 

" We don't want to do no violence, young fel- 
ler," said Cruze to Jim, " but we 've got to have 
that book and no mistake." 

" I 'm not carin' how you get it, boys," said Jim, 
his malignant eyes fastened on the man approach- 
ing ; " one damned black abolitionist more sent to 
hell don't matter much." 

As he spoke he drew a revolver from the inside 
pocket of his coat, snapped the trigger suggestively, 
and after fitting a cap replaced it half-cocked. By 
this time the man was within hailing distance, and 
Swazey recognized him. Rankling under the in- 
sult at church, he said : — 

" By heaven, it 's that damned ' Lincoln dog ' ! 
If you weaken, I '11 do the job myself." 

Lucetta heard this speech plainly, and was 
shaken with fear, but not for herself. True to her 
long training, the tremor of fright passed, she cast 
about for the help which she realized she herself 
was powerless to give, and recalled having seen 



THE POLLING OFFICER 85 

Abner Neal and Sam Truax across the field. The 
fence afforded her covert, and she ran half its 
length, then crawled on hands and knees down the 
furrow below the dip tiU out of sight, when she 
sped fleetly over the rough ground and reached 
Neal, to whom she gasped out her story. He said 
nothing to her, but called to Sam that Frank was 
in danger, told him to follow, and rushed to the 
rescue. Sam quickly unfastened the chain traces 
to loose the plough and sprang on the horse's back, 
Lucetta, meantime, explaining the situation. 

"I'm a Democrat, but I'll be everlastingly 
blasted if I '11 see murder done ! " cried Sam. 

Diffffinsf his heels into the horse's sides, and 
lashing him with the lines, the next instant he was 
racing madly down the furrows, with the chain 
traces jangling and showers of earth spurned from 
the horse's flying hoofs. 

Frank had reached the group by the roadside. 
He wore his uniform, and, as he paused, pushed 
back his cap to wipe the sweat from his forehead, 
still pale and hollow at the temples from his three 
months' imprisonment. 

Gavin stepped close to him, and without any 
preliminary greeting said : — 

" We want that book, man, and by the Holy 
Saints we 're goin' to have it ! We want it peace- 
able loike, ye understhan'. So give ut over, will 
yez?" 

Frank made no reply, but squeezed the poll-book 
tight under his left arm, and leaned against the 



86 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

fence, searching warily for a loose rail ; for he was 
without other weapon than the slender stick he 
had used for a staff, not thinking it necessary to 
arm himself against his own neighbors. 

Cruze stepped forward twirling a green oak club 
which he had cut for a weapon. 

" Yes, we 've got to have it, and if you don't 
give it up quietly we '11 take it ! " he said. 

Cruze was afraid to seize the book, but still more 
afraid not to make some sort of an attempt to ob- 
tain it, terrorized by the threats of Harv Wilson, 
who, by virtue of his power as Commander of 
their Temple, had appointed him to this task. 

" I 'm sorry I can't oblige you," said Frank, with 
provoking suavity. " It is n't mine, — belongs to 
Oliver Perry Morton. Perhaps you've heard of 
him? If you haven't, you will. He only lent 
it to me for a while, and I 'm expected to return 
it in good order, and " — with a change from his 
bantering tone, — "I fully intend to do so." 

He pressed the book closer and twirled his stick 
carelessly as he coolly scanned the three irate faces 
before him, with an expression that warned while 
it defied them. 

The Irishman's countenance expressed admira- 
tion for his pluck ; the farmer's, ludicrous helpless- 
ness ; and Swazey's, murderous rage. 

"Men," said Frank, in a calm, even voice, "if 
you get this book it will be from my dead body ! " 

There was no bravado in words or manner ; no- 
thing but an earnestness that carried conviction. 



THE POLLING OFFICER 87 

An instant of profound silence followed, during 
which, had they given it attention, a jingling sound 
could have been heard. Then Swazey, raging like 
a mad beast, with fearful oaths, screamed stri- 
dently : — 

" I '11 have it, or I '11 skin the hide off of you 
and hang it on the fence ! " 

" Well, sir," said Frank coolly, with simulated 
affability, " I 've got that article with me right now, 
and I '11 take great pleasure — in shooting you," — 
and he paused sufficiently to emphasize his con- 
tempt — " in the back ! " 

" Holy Mother, there '11 be murther done ! " 
screamed the Irishman, as Swazey, goaded and en- 
raged beyond endurance, reached for his revolver. 
Before he could draw it, there was a frightful crash 
and a horse plunged through the fence, scattering 
the rails, and the next instant trampling the mur- 
derous ruffian under his feet before Sam could 
pull up. 

The other two men, fearing arrest, vanished like 
spirits into the wood, and were soon lost in the 
underbrush. 

After Lucetta had made sure of Frank's safety, 
she took another way home, that his enemies might 
not know of her share in bringing him help. 



CHAPTER XI 

OVERHEAKD 

Tkroughout the remainder of the day, during 
the solitary hours which followed, Lucetta, having 
recovered from her agitation, thought over the 
affair, and wisely resolved to say nothing of the 
attempted assault on Frank. She was beginning 
to realize that it was an easy matter to become an 
object of suspicion and persecution in that locality, 
and it was not difficult for her to keejj it a secret, 
since she was unused to making confidences. Such 
disclosures are largely a matter of habit, and are 
the effort of a weak nature to throw off burdens 
which a lax mind, like flaccid muscles, refuses to 
bear. 

Lucetta had instinctively kept her thoughts and 
aspirations to herself, as a matter of no moment 
to her mother, whose interests had centred in her 
ailments to the exclusion of everything else ; and 
she knew they were above the sympathetic com- 
prehension of her father. In this respect she was 
one of " the solitary set in families." Suppression 
was her lifelong habit, and she now hid in her in- 
most heart the feelings of relief and thankfulness 
she felt at being able to help Frank, even conceal- 



OVERHEARD 89 

ing from herself the fact that she had been the 
instrument to deliver him, perhaps, from great 
danger. 

For the next day or two thereafter, she busied 
herself with readjusting her household on the new 
footing; and Zeb employed himself in desultory 
ploughing in the sterile field. 

But on the following Friday her father did not 
appear at their early dinner, much to Lucetta's 
surprise, for he usually came at that hour as faith- 
fully as the clock-hand on the dial. His alacrity 
in this matter was equaled only by that of his two 
dogs, — Bose, a lank, black hound, and Dandy, 
a tyrannizing spaniel, which made the big dog 
wretched by petty bickerings that he could not in 
honor resent. The situation between these ani- 
mals was much like that between a big, patient 
man and his small, shrewish wife ; and it was 
touching to see the gentle submission of Bose to 
the caprices of Dandy, and his gratitude for any 
condescending favor from him, as that, for in- 
stance, of resigning the " clabber " trough when 
he (Dandy) had no appetite for it. On this day 
they came in from the field panting from the 
exertion of rabbit-coursing, and crestfallen from 
having been ordered to the house ; but no master 
came with them. 

The schoolmistress carried her dinner with her, 
as it was too far for her to walk to and from the 
schoolhouse at noon. And, moreover, it was an 
unwritten law that the teacher should stand sen- 



90 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

tinel over her pupils during the nooning ; other- 
wise the building might suffer in the riots that 
would surely follow in her absence. 

At five o'clock Miss Abbot came from school, 
while Lucetta was busy getting supper, and before 
the meal was ready Zeb, too, came slouching in. 
Not a stroke of work had he done that afternoon, 
for Lucetta had walked to the top of the field and 
had seen the plough standing in the furrow, and 
the horse was gone as well as the master. 

" Why did n't you come to dinner, pappy ? " 
asked Lucetta. 

" Had to go to the blacksmith shop," he an- 
swered. 

Then Lucetta knew that he had probably heard 
of Frank's trouble, for the shop was the point from 
which all the neighborhood gossip disseminated, 
and it required more than nine days to wear out 
so rich a theme. She waited in some anxiety to 
learn if he knew of the part she had taken in it, 
but with his usual reticence he told her nothing. 

For some time after the meal, he sat over the hot 
ashes in the fireplace, — where, from long usage 
not yet affected by Mrs. Whittaker's death, a log 
still smouldered, — smoking his cob pipe, and puff- 
ing the smoke up the wide throat of the chimney. 
On his vacant face there was as much distress as 
it was capable of expressing, and deep trouble lay 
in the murky eyes. Before Lucetta had finished 
her evening chores, he took his cap from its peg 
and stole away again without excuse. 



OVERHEARD 91 

Lucetta threw a few chips on the fire and tidily 
brushed the hearth with a turkey wing, as the last 
task for the evenhig. When she turned to hang 
the wing up in the chimney-corner, she saw Mrs. 
Rush's black shawl, neatly folded, lying on the 
chest near by. 

" Oh, there 's Mrs. Rush's shawl. I must take 
it home to-night. I '11 be too busy to-morrow, 
and she '11 need it Sunday, as there 's meeting 
at 'Liberty.' Do you want to go, too, Miss 
Abbot?" 

It was a black challis shawl of light weight, 
which showed a ghostly pattern of the original 
florid design, in spite of its dip into the dye-ket- 
tle ; it was considered an indispensable article of 
toilet for public occasions, and no matron was ever 
seen abroad without one in that neighorhood. 

In reply to Lucetta's invitation. Miss Abbot 
said : — 

" Not to-night, Lucetta. I 've had rather a hard 
day in school ; I 'm truly glad it 's out next week. 
I '11 sit by the fire for a little while, then I '11 go 
to bed." 

The evening was chill from the heavy mist that 
rose from the creek, and the cheerful crackle of 
the flames and the pungent odor of the sap stewing 
from the handful of green chips were pleasant to 
this lonely woman, and the homely but tidy cabin 
was the most cheerful refuge she had known for 
many a day. A restful tarrying by this quiet 
hearth seemed a most desirable good, and she 



92 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

declined the visit, well knowing Lucetta did not 
fear to go alone the short distance between the 
two houses. 

Lucetta herself was not sorry to have a solitary- 
walk, and she set out by a short cut across the 
fields. 

The sun was just sinking, and as it reached the 
horizon it seemed to drop with incredible swiftness 
from the rim of the earth, and, even while she 
gazed, it shot like a plummet down through un- 
knowable spaces, leaving an interval of faltering 
light from the afterglow that flickered and faded 
into gray twilight, then suddenly gave place to 
the darkness of a starlit night. As often happens 
after sundown, a wind sprang up, as if speeding 
the parting guest, which set the tops of the high 
trees in motion, and sent the clouds racing like 
white-caps on an overhead sea. Then the stars 
went out like candles at a puff of breath, and 
before Lucetta reached the field behind the shop it 
was quite dark and threatened rain. A heavy gate, 
fastened by a hook to the corner of the shop, led 
into the road, and the rear of the building served 
in place of the missing sections of fence. As 
Lucetta paused to lift the hook, she at once 
became aware of voices inside the shop ; words 
reached her, and of such purport that, when she 
had grasped their meaning, she was filled with 
terror. 

" Yes, he '11 be put out of the way to-morrow 
night, the damned black abolitionist ! He '11 not 



OVERHEARD 93 

get a chance to do any more of his cursed spying 
this side of hell ! " 

It was one of those booming bass voices that 
cannot be subdued, and it carried far in the still- 
ness of the evening. In the reply she recognized 
Jim Swazey's tones, but so indistinct was his 
speech she could not catch his meaning. 

" You don't think the white-livered hound '11 
weaken when it comes to the pinch? " asked Jim's 
companion. 

Swazey uttered a cruel laugh, and spoke louder 
in his savage excitement. 

" He knows he can't. It 's as much as his 
hide 's worth. Cuss his worthless carcass ! We 've 
had a hell of a time with him anyway ! But 
we 've made him understand he 's between the 
Devil and the deep sea, with chances in favor of 
the Devil." And he concluded with a string of 
fierce oaths. 

" 'T would n't be much loss to us, nor gain to 
the Old Nick. Why, he 's so infernal lazy he 'd 
let a cat pull him away from his own fireplace, and 
would n't do nothin'," said the other man, and he 
laughed at his own joke, Swazey joining in. 

" He '11 do the job ! " declared Swazey. " You 
bet ! He '11 have to. There '11 be some there 
that '11 see to it. It 's either Abner Neal's life or 
his, and he knows it pretty well. I 've had to lay 
low ever since the row, and he 's had Gavin and 
Cruze both put in jail at Crofton." 

Lucetta, screened by the big gate, with infinite 



94 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

relief heard them come out and close the door, 
and, after a moment's parleying, walk off down 
the road. 

She was aware that the feeling against the war 
and the draft was bitter in the neighborhood, and 
that the resident abolitionists were hated, but she 
did not know the lengths to which the feeling 
had gone, — the secret organizations that had been 
formed, with their plots for assassination and arson. 
She knew of the existence of such societies in other 
parts of the State, and in Ohio and Illinois. In 
the past week, she had read in the school-teacher's 
weekly " Tribune " of the great danger which 
threatened the whole State of Indiana, that im- 
peached its loyalty and harassed the great war 
governor. With a flash of woman's quick intui- 
tion, worth in a crisis whole days of slow reasoning, 
she put the facts together, and knew that the thing 
caUed treason confronted her in the despicable 
guise of assassination. What was the measure 
of her responsibility ? Could she, without blood- 
guiltiness, let the innocent suffer ? Would she not 
be an accessory to murder if she did not prevent 
it ? But how ? 

She waited until the sound of footsteps had 
ceased, and during the interval took her resolu- 
tion. Her self-dependence and habits of prompti- 
tude helped her to decide what was her duty, and, 
after she had settled it with her own conscience, 
she no more thought of shirking it than of snuffing 
out the solitary star that shone amid the clouds 



OVERHEARD 95 

above her. She crossed the road, climbed the gen- 
tle ascent to the house, and knocked. 

Mrs. Rush opened the door, candle in hand, 
raised high above her head. She peered into 
Lucetta's face as she gave her the shawl with words 
of thanks, and exclaimed boisterously, in her sur- 
prise : — 

" Why, Lucetty, — whatever possessed you to 
bring that shawl home this time o 'night ? It 's 
nigh half past eight ! There was n't no sense in 
it at all ! " 

" I have so much to do to-morrow, I could n't 
fetch it then, and I was afraid you might want it 
Sunday." 

" Come right in and sit down and rest yourself. 
I know you 're tired, and you look that pale, and 
you're just a-tremblin' from climbin' that hill," 
urged Mrs. Rush, so volubly there was no chance 
for Lucetta to interject a refusal. " You do look 
bad, now I see you," and Mrs. Rush held the flar- 
ing candle in the girl's face. " Come in for a 
minute anyway." 

" No, no ! I must go ; Miss Abbot 's all alone." 

"H — u — m — m — ! Your pap ain't home, 
mebby?" she asked with that seemingly lifeless 
interest that betrays a very vital one, for Mrs. 
Rush was both shrewd and suspicious, and " knew 
a heap more 'n the men an' ol' Miz Bowles thought 
she did," as she had confided to her easy-going 
spouse. But she was really kind in her shallow 
way, and pitied the girl, whose confidence she 



96 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

could never entirely win, a fact which she some- 
what resented. 

" No, he is not," Lucetta answered. " Thank 
you for all your kindness, Mrs. Eush, and good- 
night. I must go now." 

"Well, do as you please," said Mrs. Rush 
shortly, closing the door as Lucetta turned away. 



CHAPTER Xn 

A HEAKTH-STONE HEROINE 

When Lucetta reached home, she found Miss 
Abbot in bed in her corner of the little bedroom, 
sleeping soundly, worn out by the fatigues of a 
day of thankless drudgery. Zeb had come home 
again during Lucetta's absence at Mrs. Rush's, 
and was sitting in silence before the fire : a silence 
which was not, as formerly, like the peaceful rumi- 
nation of an ox, but now suggested the dumb mis- 
ery of that creature under the cruel goad. He 
twisted his fingers till one might have looked for the 
bones to snap ; his feeble mouth twitched, and the 
loose lips puckered like a child's making ready to 
cry. Then he would start up and leave the house, 
as if its narrow space fretted him like a cell in a 
prison. He had been in this harassed, nervous 
state since his wife's death, and Lucetta thought 
it only a manifestation of his grief. But now his 
trouble, whatever it was, seemed to have reached 
a climax. His attitude and the expression of his 
pale eyes convinced her he was suffering unbeara- 
ble anguish. Her own anxiety made her less sym- 
pathetic than usual. She feared his being up at 
this hour would prove fatal to the expedition she 



98 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

had planned. A groan burst from his lips that 
roused her. 

" What is it, pappy ? Are you ailin' ? " 
He shook his head in denial, then buried his 
face on his folded arms and trembled, imtil she 
cried : — 

" Why, pappy, you 've got a chill ! " 
" No, no, girl ! Let me be, can't ye? " he said 
querulously. He could find no relief in expression, 
and sat the picture of wretchedness. At last Lu- 
cetta in despair went to her own little bed, hoping 
that he would soon seek his. But he sat till the 
clock struck eleven ; then she heard him lie down 
with inarticulate murmurings and stifled moaning. 
Almost at once his flaccid nature succumbed to 
sleep, worn out with the unwonted stress of feel- 
ing. 

When Lucetta was convinced, by his regular 
breathing, that his slumbers were sound, she arose, 
though it was near midnight, to carry out her pur- 
pose, which was to walk to Crofton and back before 
morning, a journey of fourteen miles, in order to 
warn the sheriff of the deed that menaced the life 
of an innocent man. She had decided it was best 
to leave no clue that would involve any one else, 
should the matter leak out; walking alone was 
the safest way, and she hoped to return before the 
household was astir in the morning. 

Women are rarely possessed of that form of 
courage which finds vent in taking up arms in war 
or in savage fighting. They are not ambitious 



A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 99 

of martial glory. Now and then, an heroic spirit 
adorns the pages of history, possessed of a high 
design which leads to martyrdom and wins immor- 
tality. 

But these hearth-stone heroines, — who can num- 
ber them ! They sit xmregarded in the ashes, like 
Cinderella, yet do their duty as unflinchingly as 
the soldier at the front, without his hope of glori- 
ous reward. There was as vast an army of them 
at home during the terrible years of the Civil War 
as of men in the field. Their blood did not flow 
hot as on the fields of victory, nor grow sluggish in 
defeat, but fled back to the heart in the anguish 
of utter loss. Or it was drained slowly from over- 
tasked bodies by ministrations in hospitals and on 
battle-fields after the combat, or wasted away in 
a roimd of double duties at home. How hard it 
was to bear their part was revealed in the blanched 
cheeks, the ashy lips, the hair whitened before its 
time, the eyes burning with the fires of anxiety 
or dulled by floods of unavailing tears, of those 
who waited and watched beside the hearth-stone. 
Action, fierce and terrible, is not so deadly as this 
torturing quiescence. 

Many of these women were exalted far above 
the ties of kinship when it came to a question of 
duty that might involve the sacrifice of the liberty 
or even the life of a brother, father, or husband 
for the good of the nation. This lonely spot in 
Indiana held a few such spirits, in whom burned 
the sacred fire of patriotism, — women so himible 



100 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

that opportunity rarely drew aside the curtain from 
the shrine and let it shine out in the sight of men. 
Yet how faithfully they used these occasions, how 
unfalteringly they decided when one or many must 
suffer, even if that decision but lay between them 
and their own conscience ! 

Without a moment's hesitation at the thought 
of whom it might implicate, even though it be her 
own father, Lucetta quietly made her preparations 
for the long, solitary walk. It were better the 
designs of the conspirators were frustrated than 
that murder should be committed, that the assassin, 
whoever he proved to be, should be held a prisoner 
in Crofton jail, than that Abner Neal, their neigh- 
bor, friend, and benefactor, their stay in poverty 
and sickness, should be his victim, when Providence 
had put it into her power alone to prevent it. 

She made ready so quietly that Miss Abbot did 
not stir, and slipped into the sitting-room, raised 
the wooden latch to the outer door, pushed the 
latch-string through, so that she could reenter with- 
out disturbing them, and took the lane to the road, 
which was as familiar to her as the ravine path, 
and which, three miles further on, entered the Crof- 
ton turnpike. On either hand lay thick woods 
broken by a few fields. From them came sounds 
of night life, which gave her no disquiet ; she felt 
no fear but that her mission might fail through 
some untoward circumstance. She walked rapidly, 
for she knew the return could be made more slowly. 
"When she had traveled two thirds of this by-road, 



A HEAKTH-STONE HEROINE 101 

another sound, mingling with that of the night 
insects, filled her with wild alarm. The wind had 
risen and a pasping shower fell, but neither wind 
nor rain roused that grisly terror which almost 
held her feet in their tracks. It was that direful 
cry that came, faintly but distinctly, from far and 
near : — 

" O — a — k — houn ! O — a — k — houn ! O — a — k 
— houn ! " 

Invisible things seemed closing about her like 
a pack of wolves. She took refuge in the woods, 
and, although her feet felt as though they were 
shod with lead, made such progress that before she 
reached the turnpike the ominous sounds were left 
behind. On the highway a new dread seized her, 
— that of meeting a chance traveler who might 
seek to detain her or offer her insult. Once, dis- 
concerted by the rattle of wheels, she hid till 
a farm-wagon passed on. The wind lashed her 
clothing and twisted it around her body, impeding 
her steps, and, when it quieted, a drizzling shower 
set in that saturated her garments, but her purpose 
never faltered. Her heart lightened when, after 
hours as it seemed to her, she saw afar the lights 
that twinkled around the court-house clock, and 
her steps quickened, for the perilous part of her 
journey was done. 

She soon reached the jail. It was an old-fash- 
ioned, two-story brick house, with a spacious hall 
in the middle and a long ell at the rear, and it 
stood on a corner at the intersection of two streets. 



102 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

The part that was exposed on two sides was used 
as a residence for the sheriff, — who also acted 
as jailer, — and the other was the prison proper. 
The building was but two rooms deep, the rear of 
which was divided into small cells for refractory- 
prisoners ; the front one was a general assembly 
room, where they ate their meals and stayed dur- 
ing the day, and, when they were few, slept at 
night. All the windows on this side of the house 
were barred and crisscrossed with rods of iron. 
The house had a sandstone foundation, and it 
would have been an easy matter to remove one of 
those big blocks for the escape of prisoners. The 
hall door was an ordinary one of oak, but those 
opening into the prisoners' cells were of iron. As 
a prison, the building was far from secure in the 
best of times, and, now that it held as inmates Jeff 
Riddle, the deserter, and the men who had inter- 
fered with the polling in Eiffle Township, await- 
ing orders from Indianapolis, it was guarded day 
and night. That very morning, Jeff's affection- 
ate grand-aunt, Mrs. Bowles, had paid him a visit. 
She had looked at him through the bars, and he, 
expecting sympathy, wore a befitting expression of 
countenance, when she burst out fiercely : — 

" Jeff Riddle, you 're the first of the name that 
ever looked through the bars. And hangin' 's too 
good for you for 'listin' at all. You always was a 
born fool ! And you 're a disgrace to your blood 
and raisin'." 

Jeff, crestfallen, had turned away from the grat- 



A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 103 

ing, while the woman stalked off without another 
word to anybody, to the great amusement of the 
good-natured sheriff. 

Lucetta rapped softly at the hall door, and at 
once heard a window raised gently, and a voice 
asking softly : — 

" Is that you, Billy ? Are the boys coming ? 
We 're ready for 'em." 

It was too dark to see the face of the speaker, 
who grew angry and swore under his breath when 
she made no reply. 

" You don't mean to say the white-livered hounds 
have failed us ? " 

The girl suspected that some enterprise of a 
serious nature was on foot, and knocked again 
loudly. A voice within asked : — 

"Who's there?" 

" A friend," she answered. 

" Damn it, can't you tell your name ? " said the 
person impatiently. 

" No ; please don't ask it." 

" Are you alone ? " 

"Yes." 

The man opened the door a narrow space, and, 
seeing a dim outline, reached forth a brawny hand, 
drew her inside before she realized it, and quickly 
shut and made all fast again. He then opened the 
slide of the dark lantern, and threw a flood of light 
on his prisoner. 

" By heaven, it 's a girl ! " he exclaimed. In- 
stantly a dozen men closed about them. Surprise 



104 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

and anxiety were depicted on their faces, but nei- 
ther unkindness nor hostility. 

Now the suspense was relieved, Lucetta sank on 
the lower steps of the stairway, and faltered out to 
the man who had just released her : — 

"You are Sheriff Hale?" 

"Yes." 

" I have come to warn you that Saturday night 
is set for a plot against Abner Neal. I think 
they 're going to kill him." 

" How do you know this, girl ? " 

" I overheard Jim Swazey, Alec Rush's hand, 
talking to some one about it in the blacksmith's 
shop at dusk this evening, on my way to take home 
Mrs. Rush's shawl," she explained, with that mi- 
nute attention to trifling detail common in rural 
folk ; and then she told what she had heard, as 
nearly as she could remember it. 

A man in the group whispered to the sheriff : — 

" It 's Lucetta Whittaker." 

" Zeb's girl ? " asked the sheriff, in the same low 
tone. 

"Yes." 

" You did n't hear the name of the man who was 
going to do it?" asked the sheriff, turning to Lu- 
cetta. 

" No, they mentioned no names." 

" Well, little girl, you 've done your duty," said 
the sheriff kindly. " Now you need rest and must 
go to bed. You 're not afraid to stay all night 
in the jail, I reckon? — a girl like you," seeing a 
troubled look on the girl's face. 



A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 105 

" No, I must go home," she said firmly. " No 
one must know I came." 

" She 's right, Sheriff," said one of the men. 

" She might rest an hour." 

There was the snapping of a watch-lid, and a 
finer, smaller hand than that of the sheriff held a 
gold watch in the glare of the bull's-eye. 

"Can't be done," said the man who held it. 
" It 's time now ; five minutes of two." 

There was a subdued shufiling of feet and the 
rinoqnoj sound of metal. The sheriff said excit- 
edly : — 

" By heaven, we 've not three minutes to get her 
off. Where 's Jerry ? He might take her home 
on horseback." 

Jerry was " riding bailiff," and when they looked 
around for him he could not be found. 

" He 's off to warn 'em," cried one voice. 

"He was here when the girl came in," said 
another. 

The men looked at each other astounded, for 
Jerry had been a participant in their plans ; and on 
the dismayed silence that followed, a metallic soimd 
broke dully twice. 

"By heaven, they're at it! To your places, 
boys ! " was the low command of the sheriff. 
" We '11 not parley with them except with lead." 

Each man was instantly at his post beside the 
windows, that were shielded by heavy wooden shut- 
ters, which they opened a span. In the excite- 
ment, the girl was forgotten. She climbed to the 



106 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

upper landing on the stairway and sat down, with 
a vague idea of being out of the way. The next 
moment a volley rang from the revolvers of the 
men within, and was instantly returned from with- 
out. Not a sound came from those on the defense 
but the click of revolvers. From without came a 
rush of feet ; that was a signal for a second volley 
from the jail. One loud cry followed, which Lu- 
cetta knew was a cry of pain, then all was silence 
again. 

The girl sat undismayed. At first she had ex- 
perienced that horror of blood-shedding a woman 
always feels, but excitement dispelled it. And 
when shot after shot rang out, she felt so urgent a 
desire to join the fray she could hardly remain 
seated. The spirit of a pioneer grand-dame who 
had shot at Indians through the crevices of her 
cabin stirred within her, as it does on occasion in 
every American woman who has sprung from such 
ancestry. 

The fight was over as suddenly as it had begun. 
The sheriff opened the hall door to reconnoitre 
cautiously, when he was hailed from without. 

" All right here ! The enemy has retreated in 
quick order ! " and a laugh followed. 

" Is that you. Gore? " demanded the sheriff. 

" Yes. Fetch a light, and let 's look after the 
wounded. Somebody was hurt." 

A kerosene lamp in the hall was hastily sought 
by some one, while the others went out of doors 
with the sheriff, and soon Lucetta saw them bring 



A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 107 

in tlie limp body of a man, which they carried into 
Hale's part of the house. A squad of armed men 
of the Home Guard followed. She peered over 
the banister at the men below and asked : — 

"Is he dead?" 

The sheriff, lamp in hand, was going in search 
of water and bandages, when the voice from above 
startled him into nearly dropping it. 

" Good Lord, girl, I 'd clean forgot you ! No, 
be is n't much hurt, — fainted from loss of blood." 

Lucetta descended the steps firmly, and, when 
he raised the light above his head to look at her, 
he said : — 

" Well, you are a plucky one ! Not a bit scared 
in a battle. In the dark all by yourself, too ! I 'm 
awful sorry," he added regretfully. 

" Now I '11 go. I must start right away, or I 
can't reach home in time," was the only response 
she made. 

Sheriff Hale was as large of heart as he was of 
stature, and as gentle as he was brave ; moreover, 
he had five little girls of his own that he had lifted, 
sleeping, from their beds and carried to the neigh- 
bors, out of harm's way, early in the evening ; he 
had also sent away his wife when certain that a 
raid on the jail would be made that night ; and he 
was painfully reluctant to let Lucetta go home 
alone. 

" I wish you would go upstairs to bed. The 
danger 's over for to-night. The delivery was a 
failure. But I won't keep you if you think it 
wiser to go." 



108 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

One of the men, who had been listening, stepped 
forward and said : — 

" I '11 go with her, Hale, as far as the dirt road. 
There won't be any danger after she leaves the 
pike. The Knights don't know me here." 

" He 's aU right," said Hale to Lucetta. " Go 
with him, for I can't think of letting you go alone. 
The town 's roused." 

She consented, and the hall door was opened to 
let them pass out. A great crowd had gathered in 
the street, and people were running toward it from 
every direction. In the press, they left the town 
unnoticed. 

Lucetta and her companion walked the entire 
distance to the point agreed on without exchang- 
ing a dozen words, and as he left her there he 
said : — 

" I know you, Lucetta Whittaker, and some time 
my life may be in peril ; I may need a woman's 
help. If it should be so, I now know where to find 
one in whose bravery and loyalty I can trust." 

" I do not know you, sir, but I will help you if 
ever I can," and they parted at the road that led 
her homeward. 

As Lucetta proceeded rapidly on her way, she 
seemed the only being alive, another Eve in an- 
other Eden, alone. By this time, night was going, 
and an owl was making a fretful plaint at its 
brevity. An early morning breeze sprang up, cool 
and damp, from the woods on Honey Creek, bring- 
ino; with it an odor befittinof the air of Paradise, so 



A HEARTH-STONE HEROINE 109 

heavenly sweet, for the wild grapes flung abroad 
their morning incense to the rising sun. A pheas- 
ant drummed a reveille from its post on the hill- 
side ; a bittern boomed among the sedges and 
awoke mournful echoes ; the cocks sent trumpet- 
ings from farmstead to farmstead, announcing the 
dawning, like heralds before a royal procession. 
These sounds were all significant to Lucetta, and 
she scanned the eastern sky, which was as familiar 
a map to her as the printed ones in the geography. 
She knew by the argent shimmer on the mass of 
low, thin clouds on the horizon, that the hour was 
near, the most beautiful and least familiar of the 
day, the hour of dawn, which is as lingering in its 
coming as twilight of evening in its going, but in 
which there is an awesomeness which the falling 
of night does not inspire. She watched the swift 
scattering of clouds as they fled before the morning 
wind, like a crowd before the advance guard of a 
monarch, and saw the horizon stained by a tremu- 
lous pink. At this moment, as if watching for a 
signal, a lark rose from the meadow before the 
cabin, which she had now reached, and sang with 
glorious energy the few rare notes of its thrilling 
song. It seemed the prelude of the morning choir, 
for, as if in response, a redbird trilled from a 
thicket in the creek bottom, a catbird mewed in 
the grapevines, and a robin warbled a homely 
ditty from the garden fence, while a malicious jay 
screamed from the swaying bough of an apple-tree 
in the dooryard. 



110 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

All these things — the ecstasy of Nature at the 
return of day — Lueetta noted with delight, and 
when she reached the cabin the sun came up with 
a burst as she pulled the latch-string of the silent 
house. 



CHAPTER Xni 
THE BARN-BUENING 

After a hard day's ploughing, Abner Neal and 
his hands were glad enough to go to bed at night- 
fall, and nine o'clock saw the entire household 
asleep. There was one duty he never neglected 
before he slept, no matter how great his fatigue : 
he saw that his double-barreled shotgun was loaded 
and capped ready for instant use. No loyal man 
of either party was without arms in that troubled 
time, when insurrection was at the very door. 

There is nothing like twelve hours' work in the 
open air to induce sound slumber. It is Nature's 
daily renewal of man's powers, to mark her higher 
esteem of him, which she grants but yearly to her 
lower plant-life. How generously she rewards his 
puniest efforts in return for dressing her broad 
bosom with the varied greenery of wheat and oats, 
barley and rye, corn and clover, whose exquisite 
color-tones in growth delight his eye, and in the 
harvest fill his granaries ! The soft dews of morn- 
ing are for the refreshing, the rain for revivifying, 
the sunshine for ripening all these common things, 
that the fruits of his toil may benefit him. Even 
the wonderful prodigality of vegetation and over- 



112 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

abundance of seed are for his welfare, that he may 
never come to want through his own amazing 
wastefulness and passion for destroying. He, of 
all Nature's creatures, is the only one capable of 
perfect gratitude, yet is most ungrateful. His 
murmurings began with the primal sacrifice of the 
firstfruits of the field and the firstlings of the 
flock. 

Abner Neal was, on the whole, one of the best 
men of his class. He took his blessings with be- 
coming thankfulness, and patiently accepted his 
calamities. A strain of Irish blood helped him to 
throw off trouble, and rally quickly from defeat. 

The blessings of rest had fallen on his house, 
and their slumbers were as profound as those of 
the fabled Seven Sleepers. The rising wind did 
not disturb them; nor did the sound of wheels 
rouse them, although it ceased within their own 
barnyard, scarcely a hundred yards from the 
house. 

An oilcloth-covered conveyance, known as a 
" spring-wagon," was driven as cautiously as might 
be under the open shed where vehicles were kept. 
The driver quickly unloosed the traces, but, without 
removing the harness from the horses, tied them 
in a corner. Nine men had alighted from the 
wagon, not without some clatter, for each was 
well armed. In silence they dispersed into the 
gloom of the barn and were lost in its shadows. 
It was so warily done, not even the house-dog was 
aroused. 



THE BARN-BURNING 113 

When all were safely stowed, one man asked 
another nearest him : — 

" Don't you thirk we 'd better wake Abner ? " 

" No ; Frank said not to, as the old man can't 
do much, and it would scare the women. We may 
be able to manage this quietly." 

" Frank ought to be here soon, anyway," said 
the other. 

There was the scratch of a match and a sputter, 
and the man held the light to the face of a watch 
hidden in his hat crown, that no stray beam might 
betray them. 

" It 's half past eleven," he announced. " Frank 
said he 'd be here by that time." 

He paused, and a voice answered quietly : — 

" And he is." 

" Good ! Which direction do you expect the 
attack?" 

" From the southwest ; that 's the nearest way 
for them to come. We have the advantage of 
them, and are ready for them, thanks to our friends 
here." And he laid his hand on the shoulder of 
the taller and slighter of the two men. 

" To me ? not much ! Why, don't you know " — 

" Too loud, boys," cautioned the big man, who 
seemed to be in authority. They were quiet for 
half an hour, when Frank coidd contain himself 
no longer. 

" They 've got scent of us, I 'm afraid. Harv 's 
got spies every place, even in the jail. Eh, Hale ? " 

As he spoke the last words, a rail fell out of place 



114 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

from the fence back of the barn, as indicated by 
the sound, some yards away. A quickly smothered 
curse followed the noise, and Frank, who was peep- 
ing through a crack into the darkness, could dimly 
see a figure skulking toward the sodden straw- 
stacks which stood farther down the yard. The 
men within the shed watched for others to follow, 
but no one came. 

"They seem to have weakened," whispered 
Frank. " There 's only one of 'em." 

" Hush ! the rest may be hidden in the fence 
corners on the field-side." 

As they watched, a crash as of breaking glass 
followed, and a flame instantly shot up the side of 
the stack, that soon made it a veritable pillar of 
fire. A shrill voice screamed : — 

" To hell with old Abe Lincoln and all the Lin- 
coln dogs! " and the creature gamboled grotesquely 
about the roaring stack. He flung up his arms 
in wild gestures, uttered fearful imprecations as 
a second one became enkindled, then broke into 
shrieks of hysteric laughter that ended abruptly 
in awful silence. 

" It 's brighter than Arcturus ! Fire can burn 
out blood-stains ! The blood of my friend ! the 
blood of my friend ! The lot ! the lot ! It fell my 
lot ! " he chanted weirdly, then screamed in ecstasy 
and capered more wildly as the fire mounted higher. 
The fit passed, and his voice fell into its accustomed 
mildness, and he said with rational decision : — 

" It 's like hell-fire ! " 



THE BARN-BURNING 115 

Then, with sudden fury, he cried : — 

"Let 'em burn, burn, burn to everlastin', and 
I '11 burn with 'em ! " 

With a leap he plunged into the raging flames. 
Then, with a fearful shriek, a woman flung herself 
over the fence and ran to the maniac's rescue, and 
she, too, would have been swallowed in this fiery 
furnace, had not Frank rushed down on her and 
held her back. 

" Oh, it 's pappy ! it 's pappy ! " she screamed 
distractedly, and fell at Frank's feet, where she 
groveled as in a fit. 

The men in the barn stood awestruck, bereft of 
all their senses but that of sight, with jaws dropped 
and arms rigid, useless, and heavy as leaden images, 
as if under the bewitchment of Zeb's incantations, 
till the cry of the girl broke the spell ; when they 
ran to the stacks, too late to save the man from his 
desperate deed. 

As they burst into the glare of the fire, there 
was a rustle in the fence corners, and half a dozen 
men fled across the wheat-field and were lost in 
the woods beyond, but some of the sheriff's men 
were collected enough to send a volley crashing 
after them. 

They dragged the man from the flames, scorched 
and suffocated, but still breathing feebly, and all 
interest was centred on the frenzied wretch writh- 
ing in the throes of self-inflicted torture, who 
gasped agonizingly for the breath his seared lungs 
refused to take. 



116 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

By this time the household was aroused and in 
commotion. Abner Neal and his men hurried out 
half clothed, followed by the women. They were 
all cool and collected, for they had lived for months 
under the menace of arson and murder, and were 
therefore not unprepared for this crisis, which was 
in a measure a relief from wearing suspense. 

When Abner Neal saw that it was Zeb lying 
there on the ground, contempt drove pity from his 
heart. 

" That fellow ! " he cried. " I 've almost given 
him the bread he 's eaten for years for the sake of 
his women folks. God knows he never earned it. 
And I 've kept the roof over his head." 

" Oh, it 's all true, it 's all true, but I did what 
I could. Frank knows ! " moaned Lucetta. 

Sheriff Hale went up to the angry, outraged old 
man, and spoke to him in a low voice, but Abner 
was not to be appeased. 

" The fellow 's done for. His punishment 's 
greater than any the law could give him, God 
knows. For decency's and humanity's sake, let us 
take him into the house," urged the kind sheriff. 

" Take the viper into my house ! A fellow that 
would murder me in my bed ! No, take him to 
jail!" 

" At least, get us something to soothe his pain, 
some flour, and oil, and bandages," pleaded the 
sheriff. But the old man still refused. 

Frank said, " Don't be so hard, father ; you for- 
get," sinking his voice lower. " Lucetta can hear 
you. Mother, you at least will be kinder." 



THE BARN-BURNING 117 

But Mrs. Neal had neither kindly words nor 
looks of pity for Zeb's daughter, although human- 
ity prompted her to fetch such simple palliatives 
as they had at hand. 

Sheriff Hale went to Lucetta, who still sat on 
the ground, wretched beyond the power of words 
or motion, with her face buried in her hands. 

Even the harsh duties of his office could not 
change the benignant clemency of his nature, — a 
gentle quality frequently the gift of men of large 
physique and calm, even temperament, who are too 
slow to stab with sarcastic wit, and too strong will- 
fully to pain the weak. Fate selects them for en- 
terprises where endurance and patience are needed, 
and for troubled womankind to trust. 

He raised the girl to her feet, supported her in 
his arms, and soothed her with kind words. He 
was the only person there who entered into her feel- 
ings, and sympathized fully with her misery and 
f riendlessness ; he alone realized that her mental 
torture was greater than Zeb's physical agony, and 
he wished to spare her the added pain of the hard 
words which fell from the lips of those about them. 

He motioned to Frank, who came to his side. 

"Take the girl away, Frank, into the house," 
he said. " It 's all too much for her." 

Frank beckoned to his aid a slender young man, 
and between them they supported her to the house, 
tearless and despairing, and so exhausted she could 
hardly walk. 

Mrs. Neal returned with her stores, and the men 



118 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

stripped Zeb of his smoking tatters, and applied 
oil and flour, and wrapped him in a sheet. They 
took a door from its hinges, and on this improvised 
stretcher they carried the pain-stricken wretch to 
the house of the man whom he had been appointed 
to murder. 

Frank had laid Lucetta down on a lounge in the 
sitting-room. He could not comfort her, for she 
seemed beyond the reach of words, and he unable 
to call up any. 

"Oh, will they hang poor pappy?" she asked 
distractedly over and over. " He did n't plot it 
of his own will. He could n't do it. It was the 
lot ; he said it was the lot." 

She clung to Frank's hand in the intensity of 
her despair, and implored him with pain-widened 
eyes for comfort. Then, when she realized that it 
was his father whom hers would have murdered, 
she shrank back into the pillow, and moaned in 
bitterness of soul : — 

"Oh, he would have killed your father! Let 
me go away out of this house. What right have 
I here?" 

She attempted to rise, but he gently detained her. 

" Try to be quiet, Lucetta, so you can tell me 
all about it. We must know, so the others may 
be brought to justice. It is your duty to your 
father." His appeal was not guileless. He knew 
of her exaggerated idea of duty. "He was the 
tool of the Knights, was n't he ? " 

" I think so, but I don't know. He has been so 



THE BARN-BURNING 119 

strange lately, but I thought it was on account of 
mammy. To-day he acted so worried, and, as night 
came, seemed like a crazy man. Knowing what I 
did, I was afraid ; and when he left the house so 
late, after he thought we were asleep, I got up and 
followed him. Oh, I was afraid, but God knows 
I did n't expect this ! Oh, please take me home 
now, and I '11 tell you all I know to-morrow." 

As she spoke, the bearers brought Zeb in, and 
when she saw him wrapped in a sheet she rose to 
a sitting position, and asked quietly : — 

" Is he dead ? " 

Sheriff Hale stepped to her side and said : — 

" No, my child, but there 's no hope for him. 
He '11 die before morning." 

A look of relief crossed her face, which was fol- 
lowed by a fit of terrible weeping. 

" Don't take on so, child," said the tender-hearted 
sheriff. " It 's a God's mercy he '11 be taken, for 
he was clean crazy." 

But he realized it was the other and far more 
terrible punishment that the girl had dreaded. 

They laid the body on the lounge from which 
Lucetta had risen, and after a time Zeb's moaning 
ceased, lulled by the homely applications they had 
made. Some one came in from the village and 
said the doctor was out. Zeb lay apparently life- 
less, but when he heard the doctor's name he 
roused, as if some distracted chord of his memory 
had been struck ; and he looked at Lucetta, who 
was kneeling at his side, and said f alter ingly : — j 



120 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

"I didn't want to do it." 

" Why did you, then ? " asked the sheriff. 

" Arcturus is my star, and it led me on." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Well, Harv said so. I don't know. I did n't 
throw the fire ; it fell from Arcturus. It 's like 
hell-fire. Oh, it burns ! it burns ! " 

" He 's as crazy as a loon," whispered the sheriff 
to the tall, slender man by his side. " What 's to 
be done with him ? " 

" Nothing. Look ! " 

The sheriff turned toward Zeb, and saw a change 
pass over his face, like a film over the cold surface 
of a mirror, and he beckoned his men from the 
room. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE BIVALS 

The barns and bridges and every available space 
witbin a radius of five miles around Eidgely were 
blazing witb gorgeous red, wbite, and blue posters 
announcing the Fourth of July barbecue. It fell 
on Saturday, which, from time immemorial, has 
been a sort of holiday among country folk, an au- 
spicious coincidence which promised " a big time." 
The barbecue was to be held in Bolser's woods, 
a mile from the village, and all the young people 
turned out, without regard to political bias. The 
draft, for some unknown reason, had not occurred 
at the expected time, but was in abeyance, and 
caused disquiet that broke into seditious mutter- 
ings and threats of violence. Many of the wiser, 
older people of both parties resolved to stay away 
from this gathering, which, on former occasions, 
had been merely a social affair, for now it was 
prophesied that a disturbance of some sort would 
occur. Of late, secret meetings had been held 
with greater frequency, and they feared the agita- 
tors would use the opportunity to further their own 
ends; for their influence was becoming felt, and 
had spread like contagion over the country, until 
nearly every township had its branch Temple. 



122 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

The War Democrats and Republicans had hitherto 
considered these meetings as of little consequence. 
The tragedy at Neal's had been a fearful shock, 
and had opened their eyes to the mischievous if 
not downright criminal intentions of the Copper- 
heads. It seemed the policy of the governor, who 
kept thoroughly informed of their movements, to 
ignore much of their incipfent lawlessness, and to 
deal as leniently with the actual transgressors as 
possible ; and in the end it proved a wise course. 

By reason of this judicious policy, the men who 
had assaulted Frank, after having been turned 
over to the proper legal authorities, were released 
on bail ; and Jeff Riddle, who had been sentenced 
to death, had been pardoned by the President 
through the influence of his loyal kinsmen, and 
had returned to the army a wiser man. No effort 
had been made, apparently, to find Zeb's accom- 
plices, if he had any ; many thought his deed the 
work of an overwrought brain, crazed by grief and 
excitement. 

Frank, for some mysterious reason, had not re- 
joined his regiment, although his health was fully 
recovered. He came and went on seemingly pur- 
poseless errands, which caused not a little comment 
and sagacious inferences on the part of the " But- 
ternuts." He still wore his uniform, which he 
knew became him well, and he was aware that the 
girls liked him all the better for wearing it. He 
had acquired the soldier swagger, and his cap had 
a rakish habit of getting on one side of his head, 



THE RIVALS 123 

which was covered with thick, crisp, light brown 
hair. His dark-blue eyes, rather bold in expres- 
sion, straight muscular figure, made him an ideal 
man-of-arms, and the maidens thereabouts were 
quick to appreciate him, for their woman's admira- 
tion for a soldier was stronger than their political 
bias. Therefore, when the news went abroad in 
the neighborhood that Frank had bought a new 
single buggy, it set them anxiously speculating as 
to what girl he would honor with an invitation to 
occupy the vacant seat beside him, and go with him 
to the barbecue. Frank had never "kept com- 
pany " especially with any one, but had bestowed 
his attentions impartially on all, perfectly aware 
how much they were valued. What wonder, then, 
that he took his own time to make his selection, and 
waited till the day before the great event to do so ; 
unlike the other young fellows, who thought it was 
necessary to " engage their company " at least a 
fortnight before. He knew any girl of them would 
throw her accepted swain over for the pleasure of 
going with him. It is not surprising that he grew 
conceited and somewhat cavalier in his treatment 
of them, and indulged in a good deal of figurative 
handkerchief-dropping. His four years in college 
had modified his opinions of girls somewhat, and 
these country belles were no longer quite to his 
taste. 

Frank's complacency was destined to receive a 
shock. He had made his choice undisturbed by 
a doubt of possible refusal, and it had fallen on 



124 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

Lucetta Whittaker. Why he was moved to ask 
her he could not tell, — pity perhaps. Ever since 
Zeb's death, now three weeks past, he had heard 
nothing at home but bitter censure of the Whitta- 
kers. He had not spoken of his decision to his 
father or mother, who he knew had no intention 
of going, and it rather tickled his sense of impor- 
tance when he thought of the storm it would raise 
if they foimd it out. All that remained now for 
him to do was to invite Lucetta, and, with this laud- 
able object in view, on Friday evening he hitched 
his spirited chestnut mare to his new buggy and 
set out for the Whittaker cabin. 

Since her father's death, Lucetta had remained 
in her humble dwelling with the schoolmistress, 
for she had nowhere else to go. Moreover, most 
of the neighbors were too poor, especially in those 
hard times, to receive her in their homes, even if 
she would have consented to live with them. She 
managed to subsist off the garden and the money 
Miss Abbot paid her, and she earned a little by 
sewing for the neighbors and helping at harvest 
dinners. But she was not strong enough to labor 
at actual field-work with the energy required, and 
as many women were compelled to do, owing to 
the scarcity of men from enlistment. 

To the conventional-minded, attending a place 
of amusement so soon after a double bereavement 
seems indecent, but here formal usages were not 
regarded. We are largely governed by custom, 
even in the matter of our most sacred griefs. In 



THE RIVALS 125 

this locality, at the visitation of death no change 
took place in the habits of life ; the outward badge 
of mourning was rarely worn ; but possibly the 
grief was as sincere and the sense of loss as great 
as if all the niceties of polite society had been ob- 
served. 

For these reasons, therefore, it would not have 
been indecorous had Lucetta chosen to go to the 
barbecue, but her recluse habit made her reluctant 
to mingle with large crowds. She feared that this 
meeting would end violently. The community had 
now reached a climax of feeling, in regard to the 
conduct of the war, the draft, and the recent out- 
rages of the Knights, so strong that distinct lines 
had been drawn between the party then universally 
called Butternuts on the one side, and Republicans 
and War Democrats on the other ; and friendly 
affiliation, even on such an occasion, had become 
all but impossible. 

Frank drove through the lane and drew up be- 
fore the door with a flourish. The two dogs, Bose 
and Dandy, added to the glory of his arrival with 
joyous yelps, as if announcing a hero. Having tied 
his horse to the fence, he walked to the open door 
and called out a good-day to Lucetta, who sat sew- 
ing just within. Stooping instinctively, he entered 
the room, to find, to his disgust, Jim Swazey sitting 
near the window, silently seesawing on the hind 
legs of his chair, sullen and chagrined. Instantly 
the two men assumed a different air, ruffling like 
cocks making ready for the onset. Jim's handsome, 



126 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

swarthy face mustered a bullying frown ; Frank's 
blue eyes flashed the contempt he felt, and a curt 
nod passed between them. Each was conscious 
they were rivals for the same favor. 

Lucetta at once perceived the bitter animosity 
of the two men by their bearing toward each other, 
and mentally prepared herself for a skirmish of 
passionate words, while casting about for a pla- 
cating topic of conversation. Unluckily, her first 
words were a firebrand : — 

" Frank, you 've been away so long maybe you 
don't know my friend, Mr. Swazey ?" 

Frank glared at him, and said with cutting con- 
tempt : — 

" If he 's one of your friends, you may mark me 
off the list! I don't count Copperheads among 
mine, nor any one that does ! " 

Swazey rose to his feet, hate blazing from his 
eyes, his lips rolled back in a grin of ferocious 
savagery from his clenched teeth, and presented a 
most inhuman spectacle. Murder would have been, 
at that moment, a pleasure to him, inflicting pain 
a delight ; his hands contracted to fists, and invol- 
untarily he took a fighting attitude. 

" By heaven ! I 'm not so scarce of friends that 
I would have one of Lincoln's dogs for one ! " and 
he threw out his sinewy right arm to strike a 
blow. 

Frank nimbly sprang aside and laughed taunt- 
ingly : — 

" I guess this is not quite the place for us to 



THE RIVALS 127 

settle our differences. I think you 'd better join 
Early or Morgan in Kentucky, and I '11 try to meet 
you there. It would give me pleasure to blow 
your brains out." 

Lucetta caught Frank's arm and said entreat- 
ingly, though not so softly in her agitation but 
that Swazey heard : — 

" Don't quarrel with him ; he 's a bigger man than 
you; you don't know how strong and cruel he is ! " 

In her anxiety she quite forgot the other man, 
who dropped his arm at this speech, betraying her 
entire indifference to him and her anxiety for 
Frank. Swazey laughed sneeringly, and his aspect 
was even more brutal than before. 

" I 'U not hurt your fine sweetheart now ! But 
I 'U fix him yet ! I did n't know I was making up 
to another man's girl ! That 's why you would n't 
go with me ! " he said coarsely, and left the house, 
muttering vindictively. 

" What did he mean ? " cried Lucetta in agita- 
tion. 

" Nothing so very far from the truth, Lucetta." 

" No, no ! Not that ; I meant his threat. Oh, 
Frank, be careful ! You don't know what 's on 
foot in this neighborhood. It 's too dreadful to 
talk about. Even worse things may follow than 
those that have been done. They don't dream how 
much I know, and it 's as much as my life 's worth 
to tell. You are a marked man. All Union men 
are ; so be careful, for you are reckless, Frank, 
and sometimes provoke people needlessly." 



128 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" The impudence of that fellow pushing himself 
in here! Maybe I know more than you think. 
I '11 be all right ! Don't you fret ! They are 
skulking cowards that work at night like jackals. 
I 'm ready for 'em. — But I came for something 
else, Lucetta. I want you to go with me to the 
barbecue at Bolser's woods to-morrow in my new 
rig." 

" Oh, Frank, I can't go, for I 'd just told Mr. 
Swazey I could n't before you came. I have n't 
the heart for such things." 

" Oh, a little fun will do you good. Of course 
you'd not want to go with him. No respectable 
girl would want to be seen with that scoundrel. I 
never could see why girls run after every strange 
fellow that comes into the neighborhood. That 
refusal don't count. You '11 go with me, won't 
you ? " he said persuasively. 

Until Frank saw Swazey sitting there, discom- 
fited, he had given little thought to the possible 
chance of refusal ; but as soon as another man cov- 
eted what he wanted, he felt for the moment that 
Lucetta's company to the picnic was his most 
ardent wish. Her refusal only made him the more 
determined to win her consent. 

Before he joined the army he had been a favorite 
with the girls, and was accustomed to having his 
favors received with alacrity and becoming grati- 
tude. Lucetta's repeated refusal seemed like a 
rebuff, yet he hardly believed her in earnest, as 
she was only a girl after aU, and he a sort of con- 



THE RIVALS 129 

quering hero. He was chagrined, and felt at her 
persistent denial the same humiliation he had ex- 
perienced when defeated in a petty skirmish with 
the enemy ; and then, too, he resented being treated 
like Swazey. 

Lucetta, who had spent all her life reading the 
riddles of other people's moods, unraveled his with 
ease. 

" No, Frank, I cannot go ! It is for your own 
good that I stay at home." 

He grew, angry at being resisted by a girl, and 
flung at her cruel words as he quickly left the 
house : — 

" Since you know so much about them, perhaps 
you prefer the company of a Knight of the Golden 
Circle to one of ' Lincoln's dogs ' ! " 

Lucetta made no answer to this unjust taunt, 
but watched him drive down the lane, hurt by his 
suspicion, and fearful for him if he went to the 
barbecue in his present mood. His plain-speaking 
did not wound her, for the people in the community 
were primitive in their habits and open of speech. 
The polish of polite society had not smoothed bitter 
truth into bland evasion, nor secret irritation into 
suave acquiescence, nor turned lively curiosity into 
well-bred interest ; there was little glossing of rough 
speech under the varnish of gentle manners, and 
the thin-skinned interloper was apt to suffer. Be- 
tween them, wisely, it was give and take, and there 
were few quarrels and no feuds under such con- 
ditions. But there was no small amount of good 



130 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

feeling, real kindliness, and rude integrity in their 
intercourse with each other, before this secret trea- 
son began to permeate the State, and set friend 
against friend, and neighbor against neighbor. 
Their worst passions had been roused by the war, 
and nearly to a man they sympathized with seces- 
sion, and caught up and bruited about the trea- 
sonable speeches of their leaders. The women 
violently echoed the men, who were their masters ; 
and now and then one was thought worthy to be 
taken into their councils, such as Mrs. Bowles. 

Lucetta was neither shocked nor surprised at 
Frank's rudeness, nor did she feel resentment at 
his savagery. It was not unusual for " men-folks " 
to talk so, but he had grieved her by his last fling 
as no sharp speech had done before. The ugly 
scene between the two men left an uneasy feeling 
behind, and she had forebodings of evil so strong 
she could not dismiss them. Her fears were so 
clamorous that before Frank drove rapidly out of 
sight she resolved, with some wild idea of warding 
ofP a crisis by her presence, to go to the barbecue 
herself if Miss Abbot would accompany her. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE BARBECUE 

The morning of the barbecue dawned clear and 
bright, with the delicious freshness and slight 
chilliness of the atmosphere which comes after 
thunderstorms. The rain had not been violent 
enough to make the roads muddy, and the dust 
was well laid. People, not deterred by damp 
ground and consequent discomfort, were seen com- 
ing from every direction, in all sorts of vehicles 
and on foot, — thrifty men, and even women, car- 
rying their best shoes in their hands till in sight 
of the objective point, Bolser's woods. 

As each wagon delivered its load in the grounds, 
there were hearty greetings and vigorous hand- 
shakings ; every one seemed in fine humor. The 
assemblage was plainly, even poorly, dressed, for 
calico was forty and fifty cents a yard, and finer 
materials proportionately dear. The men wore 
trousers and coats of blue and brown jeans, and 
their shirts were of homespun linen. The women's 
dresses were of linsey, woven in such checks and 
stripes as their fancy suggested and their skill 
could execute ; and some were clad in clean but 
faded cotton dresses they had bought long before 



132 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

the war began. The old dames wore drawn silk 
bonnets with long skirts, and the girls and younger 
women calico sunbonnets. The young seemed 
lively and cheerful, as if no war-cloud hung over 
them, or their gay spirits may have been but the 
exhilaration of the moment, called forth by the 
occasion, — a rare break in their dull lives. The 
elder people had a look of settled melancholy. 

The girls giggled and prattled together in groups, 
now and then casting inviting glances on the lout- 
ish young fellows that hovered afar, but were keen 
enough to follow at a safe distance as the group 
moved from place to place. 

The older men, after the first hearty greeting, 
were taciturn and apathetic, or anxiously alert, 
some even gruffly irritable ; others were collected 
in knots talking earnestly, remote from the women 
and younger people. 

The speakers' stand was erected under a group 
of magnificent beech-trees, whose long, interlacing 
limbs, with their perfectness of foliage, made a 
wide-spreading canopy of greenery, through which 
the sun scarcely penetrated. Eude benches, con- 
structed of boards laid upon pegs driven in the 
ground, furnished seats for two or three hundred 
people. 

On one side of the grove, where the trees had 
been thinned, a trench had been dug, and early in 
the morning a great fire of logs started, so that it 
might burn low enough for roasting the beef, and 
two sheep to be hung over it later. Now all was 



THE BARBECUE 133 

in readiness, and the carcases were suspended by 
hickory poles, supported on heavy forked sticks 
planted on opposite sides of the trench. The logs 
were reduced to a mass of glowing coals, and the 
savory odors from the meat soon attracted a large 
crowd around the trench, many of whom had not 
tasted fresh meat in months. They watched the 
fat as it dripped into the fire, their eyes water- 
ing from smoke, and jumped back with shrill 
screams as it burst into a fierce little blaze. 

Genuine coffee was ready to be put into pots at 
the right moment, and brown cane-sugar was pro- 
vided to sweeten it. These last were almost un- 
attainable luxuries, for which parched barley and 
wheat and home-made maple-sugar had long been 
substituted. Many of these people, for months to- 
gether, had not a cent's worth of actual scrip in 
their possession; all their transactions were done 
by exchange, — their farms furnishing them a bare 
subsistence at best. 

Alec Rush and Hiram Gillum were officiating 
as cooks. When a great cloud of ill-smelling 
smoke puffed into the girls' faces, tears flowed co- 
piously, and they fell back en masse against the 
boys " lined up " behind them. The young fellows 
uttered mock groans, and stretched forth rescuing 
arms, which the girls evaded with loud laughter 
and a rush forward. 

" Never mind, girls," said one swain, who had 
overcome his bashf ulness enough to speak, " they 
say beauty draws smoke." 



134 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

At this sally, a black-eyed maid observed pertly, 
" How purty you must be, Zeke Creeters ! " 

There arose at this archaic witticism a com- 
bined shout of shrill giggling and coarse guffaws, 
which acted like a charm in dissolving the invisi- 
ble barriers that had separated these boys and 
girls, for instantly they paired off like birds on 
St. Valentine's Day, and wandered hand in hand 
about the ground. 

Lucetta Whittaker had been standing on the 
outskirts of this crowd with the schoolmistress. 
Swasey's bold, fierce eyes had found her out 
while he was on His rounds as marshal of the day. 
He did not observe Miss Abbot, and concluded 
that Lucetta had come thither in the new buggy 
with Frank, whom, however, he had failed to dis- 
cover anywhere about the grounds. Resentful 
and vindictive by nature, he resolved not to let the 
day pass without redress of some sort, petty or 
great, as luck sent, for this slight upon him, con- 
veyed by her acceptance of Frank's escort. 

While the men were turning the beef on the 
impromptu spit, Harv Wilson — who was grand 
marshal, and who wore a scarf of red, white, and 
blue muslin across his breast — came up, full of 
importance. 

" Most ready, boys ? " he asked. 

Alec prodded the beef with a sharp-pointed iron 
rod he had had the foresight to provide, and, as 
the bright-red juice poured from the puncture, he 
said complainingly : — 



THE BARBECUE 135 

" Seems like it won't never git done. It '11 take 
an hour yet anyway." 

" It 's been a-Langin' on here since seven o'clock, 
too," said Hi Gillum, wiping his smarting eyes on 
his shirt-sleeve. 

" We must do something with these people. 
The Crof ton brass band did n't come ; the Arcady 
Glee Club 's here, but they don't seem to satisfy 
'em like a brass band. They're gittin' tired of 
waitin', and I 'm afraid it 'U have a bad effect on 
the meetin'. It 's eleven o'clock now," said Harv, 
impatiently, looking up at the sun. 

" Have a speech," said Alec, pacifically ; " that '11 
fetch 'em. Plenty of time for a rouser 'fore this 
critter 's fitten to eat." 

" Good idee," said Harv, approvingly. 

Shortly afterward his hard, raucous voice was 
heard calling the people together. The feeble, 
elderly men occupied three or four rows immedi- 
ately -under the stand, and the others were sparsely 
filled with women, whose lawful partners were 
grouped together on the outskirts, smoking, chew- 
ing, and spitting, and passing a bottle from hand 
to hand. Whiskey was very dear, and conse- 
quently was a great treat, and always in evidence 
on such occasions. 

A glee club of young men with nasal, discordant 
voices sang a campaign song about " Little Mac," 
— who was seriously talked of as a presidential 
candidate of promise, — and it was received with 
great applause. 



136 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

That Harv read aright the temper of his audi- 
ence, irritable from hunger and impatient from de- 
lay, and cunningly used his knowledge to his own ad- 
vantage, was proved by the speaker he had selected. 

The orator came forward to the edge of the plat- 
form, and his tall figure, crowned by a massive 
head covered with tawny hair, that hung long and 
thick about it like a lion's mane, his smooth-shaven 
chin, brilliant, crafty eyes that could suffuse with 
tears at his will, lips that curled with bitter sar- 
casm or melted into a smile as gentle as a child's, 
made him a man of remarkable and impressive pre- 
sence. There was that in his bearing which stamped 
him a leader of men, demagogue though he was. 

He began his speech with moderation and a 
happy allusion to the day, and gradually reached 
the themes that set men on fire, — the conscription 
act, the removal of McClellan, the enrollment of 
negro troops, arrest under habeas corpus, the im- 
pending draft. His voice, at first of fluting mel- 
ody, gradually increased to a strident scream as he 
shrieked to some invisible opponent : — 

" Dare no more to lay your hands on the white 
man's liberty ! As the Lord God reigns in heaven, 
you cannot go on with your system of provost 
marshals and police officials, arresting free white 
men for what they conceive their duty ! Blood 
will flow ! You cannot, you shall not, forge fetters 
on our limbs with a struggle for the mastery I 
The blood of a race of freemen is up ; it will not 
submit to this assault ! You may conscript citi- 



THE BARBECUE 137 

zens from their homes into the army, but it is 
true that the popular heart is no longer for the 
prosecution of this war. Do you think you can 
compel it so by force ? — by Lincoln's dogs with 
collars round their necks ? " 

His auditors were tremendously aroused, and as 
he sat down they called, " Go on ! go on ! " 

Harv seized the opportunity, while the tide of 
feeling was at the flood, and drew forward a man 
whom he introduced as Mr. Dodd. He was the 
Grand Commander of the Knights of the Golden 
Circle, though it was not generally known to his 
audience. 

He began where the former speaker left off, and 
fell at once into personal abuse of the head of the 
party then in power. On the instant, he turned 
the crowd into a raging mob. He had a thin, pas- 
sionate voice that rose and fell in cadenced mea- 
sure, and it swayed them like a strong wind blown 
across a field of headed wheat. His thin cheeks 
burned with two red spots, and his pale-blue eyes 
were bloodshot with the energy of fanatic passion. 

" This government of Abe Lincoln's is a fail- 
ure ! He is a usurper ! a tyrant ! To-day a dol- 
lar in gold is worth one dollar and forty-nine cents 
in their accursed greenbacks, earned by toil of the 
farmer that calls forth bloody sweat ! This war is 
butchery ! It is no longer a white man's govern- 
ment ! They want to give your daughters nigger 
husbands ! " 

His voice rose to a shriek of rage, and the effect 



138 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

was like a spark of gunpowder. Men surged for- 
ward close up to the stand, wild with passion, and 
yelled : — 

" Down with the nigger-lovers ! " 

" To hell with them ! " 

" Death and damnation to old Abe ! " 

" I ask you, in the name of God," he shouted 
above the uproar, " will you submit to this, or will 
you arm yourselves for battle, rise and defy them 
in your own State ? " 

" Treason ! " rang out clear and strong as a 
bugle. 

The crowd turned as one man in the direction 
of the voice. They beheld Frank Neal, dressed 
in the uniform they were execrating, his arm ex- 
tended, pointing an accusing finger at the traitor. 
He was a fine picture of courage, at the moment 
lost to all sense of policy or danger. On the 
ground by his side was a tall, strong man, a stran- 
ger to the people, who attempted to drag him from 
his perilous position, as he stood, a conspicuous 
figure, on the trunk of a fallen tree. 

The speaker cast on him a glance of devilish 
malice and proceeded vehemently : — 

" Our cherished Vallandigham is an exile ; our 
Senator is wrongfully expelled from his seat ; this 
war is bloody butchery of our brothers ! Help is 
at hand ; even now the hosts of your deliverance 
are thitherward bound. Arise and free yourselves 
from the yoke of the oppressor, nor fear the bloody 
bayonets of Lincoln's dogs ! " 



THE BARBECUE 139 

This last taunt was flung maliciously and with 
unmistakable intention at Frank, the only man 
present in army blue, who still stood on his lofty 
place. The crowd swayed toward him, now an 
uncontrollable mob, shouting execrations and vile 
words and threats, in most hideous timiult. Roused 
in a moment of physical weakness by the delib- 
erate intent of demagogues, inflamed by whiskey, 
lost to self-control with the lust of murder in them, 
they closed round the boy, who was now supported 
by the man who had failed to drag him to the 
ground. 

Lucetta and Miss Abbot were lookers-on from 
behind a huge beech-tree, some distance to the 
rear of the seats, and were fearful of a tragic end- 
ing, but powerless to aid. Lucetta felt sick with 
despair as she saw her premonitions about to be 
realized, and herseK utterly impotent to prevent it. 
Frank stood in full view, struggling to speak again, 
but the hand which his brawny companion had 
placed on his mouth was like an iron clamp. 

The men had deserted the spit, attracted by the 
uproar, and the smoke from the burning fat rose 
blue as incense. Lucetta was startled by a snap- 
ping sound at her ear, and turned her head to look 
into the barrel of a revolver which Swazey was 
aiming over her shoulder at Frank's head. She 
struck at it, but the hand that held it was muscled 
with steel, and it only swerved aside. There was a 
loud report, and the next instant a man reeled from 
the stump, lunging heavily forward to the ground. 



140 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

Lucetta shrieked, " Oh, Frank is killed ! " and 
sank to her knees and buried her face in Miss 
Abbot's skirts, while spasms of shuddering racked 
her body. 

The shot instantly sobered the mob, and an 
appalled silence fell upon them. Then cries of 
" Shame ! " " Catch the murderer ! " " Kill him ! " 
" String him up ! " rose fiercely. Apprehension 
made them tremble, and faces but a moment since 
red with furious passion grew pale with horror. 
They were not brutes, but men of primal passions, 
untaught in the higher codes of humanity. They 
had not guarded themselves against such out- 
breaks by self -repression and culture. A sense of 
justice and pity they had in common with all men, 
and they were moved deeply as they crowded 
round those who were tearing the clothing from 
the dying man, shot in the back through the heart. 
His blood spouted from his breast in a jet and fell 
in red spray around them, each pulsation growing 
feebler. The retreat of life was visible to them ; 
it withdrew like early spring frost before the ris- 
ing sun, gradually, irrevocably, — slowly retiring 
before an invincible power, it left the glazing eye, 
the relaxed muscle, the gelid clay. They were 
potent to destroy but imj^otent to restore life ; 
before them this miracle of life and death was 
finished. 

The victim had made one feeble effort to speak, 
but he was quickly past words. No one knew him, 
not even Frank, for whom he had been slain. 



THE BARBECUE 141 

Frank, meantime, stood staring down at the 
dying man, so powerless that he could not lift a 
finger. But he was brought to his senses by being 
roughly dragged to the ground, and a strange 
voice said : — 

" You are under arrest for disturbing a public 
meeting." 

" But they are traitors, and murderers, and 
Cop—" 

But a hand laid over his mouth cut off further 
speech, and the owner led Frank away to his own 
buggy and placed him in charge of a man who was 
seated in it. 

" You young fool ! don't you know how to keep 
your mouth shut ? You can't stir up Copperheads 
without gettin' bit." 

" Who are you ? " asked Frank. 

*' I 'm Lish Conway, provost marshal for this 
district. Now you go home as quick as you can, 
for I don't want another murder on my hands." 



CHAPTER XVI 

A FRIEND IN NEED 

Jim Swazey was of the order of men which is 
cruel to everything gentle ; if a little dog fawned 
on him, he would kick it away from mere sur- 
plus of savagery. He was especially ruthless to 
women who had worn out his fancy, or crossed his 
prurient purpose ; but he rarely met resistance 
from those on whom his vagrant fancy fell. Why 
a man of his nature should have selected a girl 
like Lucetta as the object of his pursuit is one of 
the world-old mysteries. Her unveiled repugnance 
to him only strengthened his resolution to over- 
come it, and when Frank appeared on the scene it 
settled into deadly purpose. 

There was one woman he could neither impress 
nor bully. He more than met his match when he 
met Mrs. Bowles. Her large, strong physique well 
matched his own ; her bitter tongue silenced his, 
or set him stammering ; a glance of her irate, 
piercing eye — gray as half -chilled steel, it had a 
red spot within it — searched out the most secret 
meanness of his soul, and he withered before it, 
as surely as did the " keerless weed " at her 
kitchen door, on which she threw hot water. 



A FRIEND IN NEED 143 

She intuitively knew Swazey to tlie core of liis 
bad nature, and reckoned him a bully, a coward, 
and a most unmanly churl. So that when he 
climbed the steep hill before her house the after- 
noon of the barbecue, and asked her for protection 
till dark, she was prepared for any disclosure he 
might make, or that she might be able to worm 
out of him. 

She asked briefly and compeUingly, " What you 
been a-doin' ?" 

He answered sullenly, " I 've been to the bar- 
becue." 

" Got into trouble, I reckon ? " 

The fellow's sullen eye sent her a sidewise 
glance of hate, and he grinned wolfishly, showing 
strong, tobacco-stained teeth, but the straining of 
the upper lip did not betoken mirth. He made no 
other answer. 

" You have — have n't you ? " Mrs. Bowles in- 
sisted. 

He nodded an unwilling assent. 

She held in her hand, as if interrupted in read- 
ing it, an old newspaper, of a date two months 
back, printed on coarse yellowish paper, the " Crof- 
ton Index," issued at the county seat, strongly 
Union in its policy. 

" Look a' here ! Seems to me this fits you pretty 
well ! " and she placed a calloused finger on a para- 
graph in the telegraphic news. It was an account 
of a bounty-jumper and deserter, supposed to be 
an emissary of the Southern Confederacy, who, in 



144 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

making his escape from Camp Morton, where he 
was confined awaiting trial, had wrested the gun 
from the guard, shot and nearly killed him with 
his own weapon, and, in the excitement following, 
made good his escape. 

" I got it in town yesterday, round some carpet- 
chain, and, as I don't get a-hold of a paper often, 
I just thought I 'd read it. It 's mighty interestin' 
readin', and val'able, too ! " And she smiled a sin- 
ister, mocking smile, more awful than her frown, 
under which he quailed and shrank back shudder- 
ing. 

" You 're a poor sort of a feller ! What you 
'fraid of ? I reckon you done it to help the cause, 
though bounty- jumpers ain't much to my taste." 

" Is there a reward out ? " he faltered abjectly, 
overlooking the fact that he was confirming her 
suspicions by asking. 

" Yes, ' two hundred,' dead or alive." 

The poltroon cowered. 

" Why, I believe you 're 'fraid I '11 try and get 
it ! " She looked him over with contempt. " I 'm 
not after blood-money ! All I want is to see the 
cause prosper ; and if you 've done these black 
abolitionists out of a cent, or, better, killed any of 
them and sent them to burn in the pit for the sake 
of the cause, I 'm the woman to help you ! Though, 
God knows, I ain't got no use for such poor cattle 
as you." 

The man seemed cowed by the superior strength 
of her nature and the scorn she heaped on him, 



A FRIEND IN NEED 145 

yet resented it, after the manner of his kind, as 
coming from a woman, and was wicked and angry- 
enough, had he dared, to have slain her on the 
spot for her contempt and knowledge of him. 

" I want to know what I 'm gettin' into first, 
before I pass my word, Jim. What 'a' you been 
a-doin' at the barbecue ? " 

" Well, I aimed to shoot that damned Lincoln 
dog that's pushin' himself into everything round 
here. He tore the badge off of me in meetin' ! 
He 's insulted me every chance he 's got ! It 's on 
account of him I 'm on bail. And he 's cut me 
out of takin' Lucetta Whittaker to the barbecue." 

" Oh, a quarrel over a girl ! I might 'a' known 
it. Men '11 fight over a slip of a girl they take a 
notion to, like two yaller curs ; and they 're always 
takin' a likin' to the same one, though the good 
Lord knows he made enough of 'em to go round. 
And a matter of duty '11 slip by, and they '11 sleep 
through it side by side, like a pair o' hounds in a 
kennel." And she broke into a harsh laugh. 

The man was furious enough to throttle her. 
He was not accustomed to self-control, and was 
only held in check by her extraordinary strength, 
knowing well he would have fared ill in a contest. 

" Him and me ain't done with each other yet," 
said Swazey menacingly. 

" I omess Frank 's able to look out for himself 
if he is a ' Lincoln dog.' He don't make threats ; 
he acts. Or was it him you killed ? I reckon you 
don't want to hide for anything else but murder." 



146 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" No, I did n't kill him. The girl — curse her ! 
— knocked my arm, and I killed a young fellow 
that's deputy marshal, — I don't knowhis name." 

" Served him right ! " observed Mrs. Bowles, 
grimly approving. " Come in ! Liddy 's at the 
barbecue. She has the only tongue here, hung 
in the middle and loose at both ends. They '11 
not look here for you. Come in." 

Swazey entered the kitchen, and Mrs. Bowles 
opened the door of a closet by the chimney, and, 
pointing to a trap-door in its ceiling, said : — 

" I guess you 'd better get up in the loft. It 's 
dark up there, but it ain't as dark as the grave." 
She nodded with grim significance. 

The man's lips worked savagely to keep back 
the curses he would have flung at her had he dared. 
He mounted a chair, slid back the little trap-door, 
and drew himself up through the narrow hole by 
sheer strength. 

There he lay the rest of the day, and late in 
the dusk of the evening, while Liddy Ann was 
milking, Mrs. Bowles called him to come down. 
She gave him his supper by no other light than 
the low kitchen fire. 

When he had voraciously eaten a hasty meal, 
Mrs. Bowles said : ; — 

" I reckon you 'd better make for Bear Den Hol- 
low. It 's a good six mile from here, and they '11 
never think of lookin' for you there. They'll 
think, from the start you 've got, you '11 be a heap 
f urder off. Just follow the creek down ; they 've 



A FRIEND IN NEED 147 

scoured the banks every foot by this time. There 's 
good hidin' places in the Den, and the raili'oad 's 
only four miles south, and you 'd better git into 
Kentucky as fast as you can. There you '11 be all 
right. Here 's some powder and shot. Reckon 
you 've got a gun ? " She handed him a compact 
bundle as she spoke. 

" No, I let mine fall when I stumbled over a root, 
and did n't have time to pick it up again, they were 
after me so close," and he swore viciously at his 
pursuers. 

Mrs. Bowles unhooked her sleeve at the wrist- 
band and rolled it up to her shoulder, displaying 
an arm as sinewy as the blacksmith's. She opened 
the meal-chest, full to the brim with corn-meal, and 
thrust her naked arm down to the bottom and drew 
up a good-sized parcel, well wrapped up in paper, 
and handed it to Swazey. 

" They 're for the ' cause,' " she said express- 
ively. 

He took it, hastily tore off the paper and dis- 
closed a brace of revolvers ; he snapped the trig- 
gers and found them in perfect order. 

*' If the men were all like you, Mrs. Bowles, our 
cause would succeed," he said, compelled to admira- 
tion. 

Liddy Ann was heard coming heavily along the 
board walk, and Mrs. Bowles opened the door and 
said : — 

" Go quick ! Harmless fools like her ain't to 
be trusted." 



CHAPTER XVII 

IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW 

News in country communities is sporadic ; it 
starts no one knows how, and spreads insidiously. 
About a week after the flight of Jim Swazey, it 
was rumored that there was a ghost in Bear Den 
Hollow. One night, two boys, fishing for " cat " 
in the deep hole at the mouth of the ravine, had 
seen a dim figure down in the hollow, which was 
lighted in flickering spots by an overhead moon. 
With boyish bravado they had called out : — 

" Hi, there ! who are you ? " 

The apparition had sunk into the ground, they 
averred, before their eyes. The story ran further 
day by day, spreading like circles in water when a 
pebble is dropped, till the news reached the ham- 
let of Appleton, which lay five miles southeast of 
Ridgely, where it had come to the knowledge of 
Colonel Gore, who commanded the Home Guards 
in that section. Orders had been sent to him, as 
to all the commanding officers of the State militia, 
to be on the alert for bounty-jumpers, deserters, 
and instigators of insurrection. Provost-marshals 
were numerous throughout the State, acting with 
the Home Guard and those of the civil officers who 



IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW 149 

were loyal, for iu many localities these latter were 
not to be trusted. The militia was kept on a war 
footing, a precaution rendered necessary by the 
discouraging and threatening aspect of affairs. 

A description of the deserter from Camp Morton 
had been furnished Colonel Gore ; and the story 
of the murdered deputy was all about the country. 
Sheriff Hale had been in search of the murderer, 
but up to the day Frank Neal met him on the street 
in Crofton, and told him the story of the " ghost," 
— with his own interpretation of the mystery, — he 
had not had the slightest clue, and so he at once 
made his plans quietly to investigate the affair. 

The same afternoon this information was given 
by Frank to the sheriff, Tapp appeared in Apple- 
ton with a supply of tinware suited to the equip- 
ment of soldiers, and he sought out the officer to 
dispose of his wares. Immediately after his trans- 
action with Colonel Gore, a guard of half a dozen 
men was ordered to make ready as secretly as 
might be for instant duty, to meet their command- 
ing officer singly, at a place and time appointed, 
that night. 

Neither the colonel nor the sheriff were believers 
in ghosts, and each strongly suspected this one 
might materialize into the man he sought, and, 
without being aware of it, they acted in concert- 
Sheriff Hale set off late in the evening with 
two constables. They rode horseback, on account 
of the rough roads, which in places were impassable 
for a vehicle, and they were joined by Frank at 



150 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

Kldgely. Colonel Gore had the benefit of vicinage, 
and reached Bear Den Hollow just as the quiver- 
ing gray of dawn displaced the darkness, before a 
tinge of sunlight had brightened the sky. 

The squad of men accompanying him defiled, 
like Indians, on the narrow footpath edging the 
stream. A tumultuous "branch" dashing into 
the creek, as if glad to escape the gloomy precincts 
of a large ravine, warned them they had reached 
their destination. A cold wind made the men 
shiver as they turned into the little canyon. On 
the hilltop, a fox barked a sharp warning of ap- 
proach ; buzzards sailed high, with a shrill swish of 
wings, startled at the unwonted intrusion ; a song- 
sparrow, which has few hours of silence, tinkled in 
a hidden spot ; an alert squirrel darted up a tree, 
tail lashing, chattering furiously, and continued 
his flight in mid-air, sjiringing from bough to bough 
to a place of safety deep in the woods. Further 
up the glen, the brook threw itself headlong with 
loud complaint down a tiny precipice, in haste to 
quit the hateful place ; its ceaseless voice domi- 
nated sounds of lesser volume. The search party 
disturbed sleeping snakes, that glided away with 
a hiss, and routed cold toads from their hiding- 
places. They crashed through thickets of leather- 
wood and spicewood, through brakes and ferns, 
scaled the sides of the ravine with the sure-footed- 
ness of goats, — rousing the owls to querulousness, 
— and brought terror to a little world of insect 
life, scurrying, flying out of their way. 



IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW 151 

The sides of the ravine were walled with huge 
flaked strata of sandstone ; and not infrequently 
great slabs fell from their places and brought up 
tilted at dangerous angles, checked in their down- 
ward progress by boulders or tree-stumps. No 
difficulty, however great, hindered them in explor- 
ing every inch of the glen, but not a trace of 
human creature could they find. 

By a mere chance, the men came together again 
at a point where a tiny rill told of a sequestered 
spring. "Worried as fox-hounds that have lost trail, 
jaded and thirsty, they followed up a fissure-like 
opening to its head, where they discovered a spring 
beneath a penthouse of rock, so placed that the 
sun's rays never found it out. It spread in a wide, 
shallow circle over a bed of white sand thrown up 
momently in tiny jets, that gently crinkled its sur- 
face. The men fell on their knees, hot and tired, 
glad to drink as humbly as the wild denizens of 
the place. 

The first man at its brink was Tapp, and his 
quick eye saw on the soft ground the fresh imprint 
of a human foot ; large and firm was the foot that 
had pressed that tell-tale mould. 

The others were following in single file, the 
colonel at their head. Tapp pointed down, and' 
said to him : — 

" I think your man 's here." 

The colonel, well versed in Indian lore, stooped 
and examined the tracks. 

"Yes, they're perfectly fresh. He must have 



152 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

come just before we got here, and has n't had time 
to get far away," he said, speaking softly so that 
only Tapp heard. 

The entire squad had collected at the spring, 
and the colonel gave orders that some should 
watch the head of this little ravine, while others 
deployed right and left to scale its sides. The 
mouth of the larger glen, debouching on the river, 
was left unguarded, for it could be approached 
only on foot, and had been searched until they were 
perfectly satisfied no one was hiding there. The 
hunt began again, and they gradually closed in to 
the point agreed on, — the sombre spring, — peer- 
ing under every bush, behind stumps and boulders, 
even into fissures in the steep sides. Slowly and 
warily they came together in a narrowing circle. 

At last a sharp, surprised cry warned them the 
quarry was run to earth. About a hundred feet 
up the glen, wedged under a great slab of sand- 
stone fallen from the wall above, and held totter- 
ingly aslant by a shattered sapling, quivering to 
further fall, crouched the murderer. A slight tilt 
of the great rock would have released it and 
crushed him ; but it was his sole chance, and, when 
chances are narrowed to unity, men take desperate 
ones. 

Like a creature at bay, as the men surrounded 
his refuge in response to his captor's cry, the pris- 
oner sprang to his feet, cursing fiercely. He glared 
at them from under his mat of tangled hair, like a 
trapped beast. His face was pale from hunger, 



IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW 153 

and his eyes hollow from sleeplessness. He stood 
defiant with superb courage, determined not to be 
taken, hopeless ?.s the situation was. The sheer 
wall of stone behind him prevented surprise from 
that direction, so that he had but to guard his 
right and left hand from behind the perilous am- 
bush of the rocking stone. 

" Surrender ! " commanded Colonel Gore. 

Not a word did Swazey say, but with a revolver 
in each hand, as if determined to work as much 
destruction as he could before he himself should 
meet it, opened a rapid fire which flew wide of the 
mark. Waiting for orders, the colonel's men did 
not, at first, return fire. But one youth, with the 
fighting passion for the first time roused, rushed 
on Swazey as if to tear him from his ambuscade ; 
a shot, and he sank down in his tracks, apparently 
lifeless. At this, pitiless fury took possession of 
the squad, who, deaf to the orders of their officer, 
fell on Swazey as if to tear him from his den like 
a hunted wolf. Ill-trained, untried as soldiers, 
they forgot discipline, forgot their revolvers in 
their holsters ; not a shot did they fire, but made 
ready to use the weapons nature had given them, 
their brawny fists. 

The sharp report of Swazey's revolvers, which 
the echoes repeated clamorously, filled the hol- 
low until his ammunition was gone. At bay and 
desperate, he turned to the cruel wall behind him 
and tried to scale it, tearing the flesh from his 
nails in his frantic grip. He managed to drag 



154 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

himself up a few yards, his chest heaving with his 
sobbing breath. The rock above him would not 
have furnished foothold for a bird. When he 
realized escape was impossible, he beat his head 
against the cliff again and again. His pursuers 
were the better men, agile, sure-footed, and used 
to climbing the steep sides of the ravine. Two of 
them soon dragged him struggling to the ground. 

" It 's McCune and no mistake ! " said Tapp, as 
he looked the prisoner over. 

" Who ? " asked Colonel Gore. 

" The deserter — bounty-jumper — and ex-rebel 
soldier that nearly brained the guard at Camp 
Morton ! " 

" It 's Jim Swazey, the blacksmith's hand, that 
tried to kiU Frank Neal at the barbecue, and did 
kill the deputy marshal," said another man. 

The prisoner stood with a hand tightly gripped 
by each of his captors, his lips working nervously 
over his teeth, his chest heaving deeply, and his 
wicked eyes glancing quickly from one to another 
of the men surrounding him. He offered no resist- 
ance, but seemed to have given up hopelessly. As 
the last man finished speaking, he wrested his 
right hand free, and quick as a flash drew a knife 
from his breast and aimed it at the heart of one 
of his guards. Tapp as quickly struck down the 
miscreant's hand. 

" We 've had enouah of this ! " cried one of the 



men. 



" Hang him ! hang him ! " 



IN BEAR DEN HOLLOW 155 

" Yes, liang liim ! He 's had his chance ! " 
And the rope which was to have bound him as a 
prisoner was unwound for the fearful office of his 
execution. 

Tapp tried to prevent it ; he implored them to 
let the law take its course, but all were against 
him, even Colonel Gore. As well try to stop a 
hurricane by a silken scarf as to check by rational 
speech the wild passion of men whose blood cries 
for blood. In an instant the hapless wretch was 
bound, the noose was about his neck. One man 
threw the end of the rope over the limb of a huge 
pine-tree tha£ moaned distressfully in a passing 
gust. Eager hands grasped it, and ran with it its 
length, dragging the wretch off his feet till he dan- 
gled in mid-air, plunging and writhing hideously, 
even cursing till the tightening rope throttled him. 
The noise and excitement of the fearful scene 
made the men deaf to all other sounds, so that the 
approach of hurrying feet was unheeded. The 
sheriff and his men burst on them, horrified to be- 
hold the body of a man spinning at the end of a 
rope like a plummet. 

" This proceeding is illegal ! " shouted Hale in 
agitation. " The State of Indiana does not recog- 
nize lynch law as anything more than murder." 

" Sir, the State of Indiana authorizes, by a pro- 
clamation of the governor, that this man shall be 
taken dead or alive, and, further, I am authorized 
by martial law to use my authority at discretion. 
This is a sort of drum-head court-martial," said 
the colonel grimly. 



156 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" Good heavens ! " cried Frank Neal. " Cut him 
down quick ! Don't you see he 's nearly dead ? " 

" Let him die ! " was the fierce answer, accom- 
panied with curses. 

" See what he 's done ! " and the men pointed 
up the ravine where lay the body of the boy, for- 
gotten till then. 

The wretch at the end of the rope was now as 
quiet as his victim, but for the pink-tinged froth 
bubbling from his lips, and an occasional roll of 
his bulging eyes and spasmodic drawing up of his 
extremities. On this ghastly spectacle these men, 
who were ordinarily peaceable and law-abiding cit- 
izens, looked remorselessly, unmoved by Frank's 
appeal or the sheriff's protest. 

Suddenly Frank sprang forward and slashed the 
taut rope with his pocket-knife, but too late. The 
lifeless body fell to the ground in a limp heap, 
hideously grotesque. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

TREATS OF FAILUEES 

After the tragedy of Bear Den Hollow the 
Knights kept in the background, impressed at last 
by the fact that there was a terrific, silent power 
opposed to them, which they in their infatuated 
ignorance had arrogantly disregarded, — the Law 
and the will of the determined but patient head of 
the commonwealth. They were further disheart- 
ened when the news of the ludicrous panic, satiri- 
cally called the Battle of Pogue's Run, permeated to 
their remote neighborhood. These rural Hoosiers 
had their own stubborn idea of courage, and were 
ashamed and disgusted at the poltroonery of their 
leaders. Many, on being enlightened as to the 
real ends of the order, which they had been taught 
was for self-defense in view of certain contingen- 
cies, deserted the cause. 

On the convention of 1863 the Knights had 
built their hopes, for they had carefully planned 
to control it for their own ends. Governor Mor- 
ton was fully informed of their plans through his 
secret agents, and ready for any emergency ; and 
when a great crowd had gathered in the State 
House grounds, and, as Harv Wilson said, " every- 



158 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

tiling was comin' our way," tlie cadenced tread of 
soldiery sounded above the strident voice of the 
speaker spouting treason. A scene of ludicrous 
panic ensued ; men fled in every direction. So de- 
moralized were they, they did not stop to watch 
the passage of the artillery, which did not halt, but 
paraded with set faces and twinkling eyes, amused 
at the laughable dismay of the foe in this the least 
sanguinary battle in which they had taken part. 

These fustian Knights returned to their homes 
humiliated, but were not deterred from continuing 
their plottings. They had been fully enlightened, 
however, on certain points, — the thorough grasp 
of the situation by the governor, and his inflexible 
determination to crush them, quietly if possible, 
forcibly if need be. Their deplorable failure to 
carry out their designs in so small a matter as 
seizing the State Democratic Convention convinced 
them that the time had not yet come for the up- 
rising urged by the leaders ; and a warning from 
Governor Morton, that if they wished to keep their 
heads from the noose they must abandon their trea- 
sonable schemes, helped to these conclusions. 

But another and even greater failure was to fol- 
low. With wonderful prescience on the part of 
the authorities, Morgan's raid had been anticipated, 
and the Knights, who had hoped to turn this also 
to their benefit, again failed through imperfect 
organization. They were ready with their "Mor- 
gan sign," but not with their assistance, for they 
had not counted on the prompt action of the militia, 



TREATS OF FAILURES 159 

and were disconcerted. About a week after the 
lyncliing of Swazey, that intrepid guerrilla appeared 
on the outskirts of Middle County and halted for 
a moment at Harv Wilson's door for provender. 
Morgan laughed contemptuously as Harv made 
the fantastic sign agreed upon, and turned his jaded 
animals into the flourishing cornfield to trample 
at will, while his men feasted royally on the boun- 
teous harvest-dinner spread, as if in waiting for 
them, the guests having fled at the first sight of 
the long, irregular line of galloping horsemen. 
Morgan had been led to hope for cooperation from 
the Knights, and when they failed him, either from 
fear, or lack of dispatch in making ready, he did 
not spare them. He singled them out for his con- 
tempt and showed it plainly, the " Morgan sign " 
aiding him. 

The bold marauder came and went like a flash- 
ing meteor, while his Hoosier allies stood agape, 
surprised into total forgetfulness of the arms they 
had secreted in their oat-bins, meal-chests, and 
other unique hiding-places for this very emergency, 
and they watched him vanish in clouds of dust, 
astride their best horses, closely pursued by the 
Home Guard. 

But treason in Indiana died hard, and none of 
these misadventures made a lasting impression, 
nor taught them that there was a vigilance exercised 
by the governor, strong as it was patient, which 
neither slumbered nor slept. 

When the terrible news of the lynching of Swazey 



160 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

was known in the neighborhood, then, indeed, they 
were brought to a realization of their danger. The 
Home Guard, up to that time, had been held in 
contempt as too cowardly to fight with the armies 
in the field, and too pusillanimous to be feared at 
home. That they might use extreme measures had 
never entered their minds. But force, rough bru- 
tality, successfully applied, brings recognition with 
a certainty which neither mild persuasion nor gen- 
tle remonstrance can command. 

For weeks the hanging was discussed stealthily, 
as if the arm of military power was stretched out, 
ready to throttle the first offender that dared speak 
openly. 

The timid members of the Vestibule dropped 
off, with those who disapproved the designs of the 
order, but the half dozen members of the " Third 
Degree," of which Harv Wilson was one, were 
more secret and active than ever. Their numerous 
discomfitures crystallized their rather indefinite 
plans into a definite aim of gigantic proportion and 
incredible audacity. The name of the order was 
now changed to the Sons of Liberty, to escape the 
odium of the old designation, but it was of no avail ; 
" Knights " they were, and " Knights " they were 
to remain to the end of time. 

The men who continued in the order took de- 
sperate chances, — watched as they were by the 
secret emissaries of the governor, — and trusted 
only those who were bold, daring, and strong in 
the cause. 



TREATS OF FAILURES 161 

The autumn and winter passed away in the 
vicinity of E,idgely without further hostile demon- 
stration on the part of the Temple ; the Knights 
were made the object of unceasing surveillance 
by the officers of the peace, although they gave 
no ground for complaint. Harv Wilson and a 
chosen few made frequent trips to Indianapolis, 
and Tapp disappeared from the neighborhood. 
No one was surprised at this, however, for a rag- 
peddler seldom braved the discomforts of winter 
and bad roads to ply his trade ; he worked only 
in summer. 

The following spring, the absorbing questions 
were the presidential election and the call for men 
for one year's enlistment. The people feared an- 
other draft, and the old antagonism was aroused to 
even greater violence. In the early spring the 
news reached this secluded hamlet of Ridgely of 
the successful raid of the Peace Men in the ad- 
joining State of Illinois, and the Knights gloried 
over it as a victory for their cause. They resented 
the degrading of McClellan and the promotion of 
Grant, so that all things seemed to work together 
for evil throughout that spring of 1864. It would 
seem that complications were serious enough with- 
out the added rancor of a campaign year. To fur- 
ther involve the affairs of Indiana, the Knights of 
the Golden Circle, masquerading under the name 
of Peace party, ostensibly seceded from the Demo- 
cratic party, yet nevertheless controlled it. 

Apparently none of these events ruffled the stag- 



162 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

nant pool of life in and about Ridgely. But who 
knows what riots and tragedies go on under the 
turgid surface of such stagnation ? 

When spring broke, it found the people in the 
Neal neighborhood about their accustomed tasks. 
Frank Neal had returned to the army, and was 
soon to be mustered out, as his three years' term of 
enlistment had nearly expired. 

At the blacksmith's shop, the usual company 
gathered to discuss " war news " to the ring of 
Alec's anvil, — a company a little more poverty- 
stricken and a little more discouraged than it had 
been the previous spring, for they could see no 
hope of peace. Grant was advancing on Rich- 
mond, and they believed Lee invincible. 

Swazey was never mentioned, and a boy of the 
neighborhood took his place at the bellows. Alec 
himself had quit the Knights after that night in 
Harv's cabin, but remained faithful to his oath 
not to betray them. 

The old and young spinster had remained the 
winter through in the lonely cabin, Lucetta study- 
ing. Miss Abbot teaching ; and the bond of affec- 
tion seemed to grow stronger each day between 
the two, for whom no one else seemed particularly 
to care. Lucetta had recovered sufficiently from 
the loss of both parents to enjoy to the utmost her 
books and the society of her wise friend. Her 
formerly too serious air was tempered by gleams 
of girlish brightness, but she could never be viva- 
cious, so subdued was her spirit by years of hard 



TREATS OF FAILURES 163 

drudgery and poverty. Her appearance had im- 
proved : she was no longer so slight as to merit 
Mrs. Stump's description of " slab-sided ; " slender 
she would always be ; release from constant ser- 
vice, and the good plain food Miss Abbot insisted 
on, had rounded her figure prettily. Even the 
contour of her face had changed, taking on a fine 
oval ; her soft, dark eyes were lighted with eager 
intelligence ; and her hair, glossily brown as the 
" buck-eye " nut, shaded a low, smooth forehead 
from which the lines of care had vanished. Alto- 
gether, hers was a pleasing countenance to look 
upon. 

Mrs. Bowles and Liddy Ann had passed the 
desolate winter months in the dreary task of cut- 
ting carpet-rags, Liddy Ann's tongue babbling 
like a mountain brook, Mrs. Bowles silent and 
grim as the rock that walled its channel. 

Who does not love life at each recurring spring, 
whose glories are visible and are the archetype of 
that never-ending existence, the sum of all our 
hopes, the despair of certain knowledge ! 

It was with joy the farm-boy turned the long 
furrows in Mrs. Bowles's west field, and even that 
grim creature felt faint stirrings of pleasure as she 
followed the plough, dropping corn. But no sound 
fell from her lips to show her sympathy with his 
mood, which was of the blithest, for there was the 
unforgotten ecstasy of the meadow-lark's song to 
cheer him ; the odor of fresh-turned earth to float 
about him ; the delight of faint green in the pasture 



164 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

to feast his eye ; the placid content o£ the cattle, as 
they nibbled the short tender herbage, to add to his 
content : all tutored him in thankfulness for the 
common but bountiful pleasures Nature gives for 
the mere taking in early spring. 

At Neal's, life had moved on with its accustomed 
placidity and lavish bounty. They planted their 
corn and waited for the harvest, accepting serenely 
good or bad. 

Thus spring slipped away till the corn was 
nearly ready to "lay by," and no storm had trou- 
bled the life of Ridgely and its outlying farmsteads. 
Not even the rag-peddler had intruded into its 
calm, and they feebly wished he might come ; for 
he did not drive hard bargains, and was lively and 
" friendly," a homely word that meant much of 
good-fellowship among them. 



CHAPTER XIX 

AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 

Mrs. Bowles's spring-house, through which had 
been led a sparkling brook, the outpouring of the 
spring near by, was perhaps a hundred yards from 
the kitchen door, halfway down the hillside. The 
milk-crocks were sunk nearly to the top in its cold, 
crystal water. Mrs. Bowles had been skimming the 
cream for the churning, for the flighty Liddy Ann 
was never allowed to intrude there. As she came 
from her work to the house, her quick eye caught 
sight of a white horse jogging down the road with 
a hitch peculiar to an animal with the stringhalt. 

It was fully a quarter of a mile away, down the 
straight road, but she knew without a doubt it was 
the tin-peddler's "nag" and van. 

" Drat him ! " she muttered, as she gazed from 
under her hand which shielded her eyes from the 
morning sun. 

" What 's he back here again for ? Nothin' 
good, I swow ! " 

It was only about six o'clock in the morning, 
but all the neighborhood had breakfasted by that 
hour, as a thin trail of blue wood-smoke from dying 
fires testified, and had gone about their daily avo- 



166 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

cations. The sound of Liddy washing clothes in 
the back kitchen ; the voice of the boy urging his 
lazy horse as he ploughed for the last time before 
the corn was " laid by ; " clucking, querulous hens 
with their " second hatch " scratching around the 
door-yard ; the bees busy loading their thighs with 
pollen in the flaunting hollyhocks in the garden; 
the entangled gnats shrilling from the gummy stalks 
of the " painted ladies ; " the whetting of the scythe 
from the oat-fields near by ; the faint rasping of a 
cross-cut saw from the woods, — all told of a busy, 
simple life of labor. 

Suddenly a pea-fowl screeched discordantly from 
the top of a tall pine-tree on the bluff. 

" It '11 rain before another sun-up," muttered 
Mrs. Bowles. For thereabout the cry of that bird 
was firmly believed to be an unfailing sign of rain. 

By this time the white horse and rickety wagon 
had drawn so near that a tinkling could be heard, 
and the ribs of the scraggy horse showed plainly. 

" Drat that feller ! " she repeated. " Come back 
here again, has he ? I don't trust him ! He 's 
a-peddlin' for something more than tinware ! He 
means mischief, or I lose my guess ! " 

Her lips were closed tight as she watched him 
open her gate at the far end of the long lane. She 
took a sudden resolution, and with her to resolve 
was to do, so that before he had fastened the gate 
she was in the kitchen. She said to Liddy Ann : — 

" I 'm a-goin' over to Josh Miller's. The baby 's 
took awful bad ag'in ! They 've sent for me ! " 



AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 167 

« 
"My! too bad! Who'd they send?" asked 

Liddy eagerly, with an unquenchable curiosity to 

learn the most trivial detail, peculiar to her. 

Mrs. Bowles ignored her question, with her ac- 
customed disdain of her handmaiden when she 
considered her prying unwarrantable, but not the 
slightest impression did it make on that irrepressi- 
ble newsmonger. 

" Mebby 1 11 be home to dinner, and mebby I 
won't," said Mrs. Bowles, as she took from its 
nail her light summer shawl of delaine. Putting 
on her sun-bonnet, she passed out of the kitchen 
door, leaving Liddy Ann baffled. In such narrow 
lives, the slightest incident is of interest ; and when 
one is born with an acute desire to know every- 
thing, however trifling, as was Liddy Ann, disap- 
pointment is real pain, and she sighed as she re- 
sumed her work, with the comment : — 

" Miz Bowles is that gosterin' and masterful ! " 

Mrs. Bowles disappeared around the corner of 
the house, and, what was surprising, into it again, 
for she opened the front door of the sacred " par- 
lor-room," disappeared, and closed it quickly after 
her. 

The house had been built before the township 
road was constructed. Such roads are placed at 
stated intervals provided for by the rectangular 
survey of the State ; thus it happened that the new 
one ran back of her dwelling, and the lane from it 
led up to the kitchen, and the front of the house 
was toward Honey Creek. 



168 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

The peddler came on, with his wares jingling 
pleasantly. When he reached the little orchard 
by the kitchen, he tied his lank beast to the palings 
and walked with swift jauntiness up to the door. 
Liddy Ann's loud rubbing on the washboard 
drowned his approaching steps, which were light 
to stealthiness, compared to the lumbering tread 
of the men who walk always on the bosom of the 
earth or in furrows. 

" Howd'y, Liddy Ann ! " he called out cheer- 
fully from the doorway. 

The tin-peddler was a friendly soul, and had 
adopted the customs of the community with sur- 
prising quickness, one of which was to call every 
one, from infancy to middle age, who was not ven- 
erable enough to merit the prefix of " uncle " or 
" aunt," by his Christian name, and he had been 
given his from the first. There was an amazing 
number of honorary "Uncle Johnnies" and "Aunt 
Betties " in the community, and, with the sagacity 
of a politician, Tapp knew them all and so addressed 
them. 

Liddy gave a scream and exclaimed : — 

" My, how you flustered me, Oliver ! Why, 
when did you come?" She left off work, and, 
stripping the suds from her bare arms, pushed the 
" scolding-locks " up from her neck with a sweep 
of her puckered hand, preening as naturally as a 
wet hen. She came toward him mincingly, as was 
her manner in company. 



AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 169 

" I 'm powerful glad to see you ! Won't you 
come in and rest your hat? " she asked. 

" I just got inio the neighborhood this morning. 
I can't come in, for I 've got to go nearly to Crof- 
ton to-day. Is Mrs. Bowles well ? Thought I 'd 
just stop as I was passing, to see if she wanted any- 
thing to-day." 

" My, it 's too bad ! Miz Bowles ain't home. 
She had to go over to Josh Miller's. The baby 's 
took bad ag'in. It do beat all how that baby gits 
sick! Puniest thing I ever did see. Set down, 
won't you ? " she urged, handing him a splint-bot- 
tomed chair. 

" Guess I will for a minute. It ain't often I 
get such a chance as this, Liddy, to see you alone. 
Most as good as sparkin', ain't it ? " he said auda- 
ciously. 

The delighted Liddy tittered and said : — 

" Oh, go 'long ! None of your foolin'." 

" You say Mrs. Bowles is gone ? " 

« Yes." 

" Well, I 'm not sorry, Liddy Ann. Are you ? " 

" I never thought nothin' about it. But why 
ain't you sorry? " she asked, jerking her head with 
clumsy coquetry. 

" As if I need to tell you ! But I 've got to go. 
Got to stop at Alec's to have a shoe set. Wish I 
could stay in such good company all morning." 

Liddy Ann bridled and her face flamed, for 
there is no woman, however great a fool, and how- 
ever persistently overlooked by the other sex, that 



170 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

is not amenable to tender insinuations. Man's 
flattery makes itself felt, if it comes from the right 
person. 

Poor Liddy had never had a " feller," and this 
speech seemed promising. She trembled and gig- 
gled, gratified and agitated. 

The peddler could scarcely refrain a smile at her 
undisguised elation. His keen eye watched her 
simpering face attentively meantime, much as a 
doctor watches a patient after administering a po- 
tent drug, in order to carry out his purpose at the 
critical moment. Any one less a simpleton than 
Liddy Ann could have seen there was more delib- 
erate intention than tender sentiment in the look 
he bent upon her. At last, with an effrontery 
that completed his triumph, he planted an explo- 
sive kiss on her lips. Her delight was pitiable, 
because his deceit was so apparent. He started 
through the door, then turned back as if an after- 
thought had prompted him. 

*' Oh, Liddy Ann, I saw lots of young squirrels 
in the woods this morning, coming along. Do you 
like them?" 

" Well, I just reckon I do." 

" I 've got my gun along, but I ain't got any 
powder. I 'low to get some at Crofton to-day. 
Wish I had some now and I 'd shoot you a mess 
of squirrels." 

"Land sakes! Ain't that funny, now? Miz 
Bowles 's got some. She keeps it in the feed-bin. 
I found it t' other day when I went to mix shorts 



AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 171 

in the milk for the weanin' calf. I come a-dashin' 
in, and sez I : ' La, Miz Bowles, here 's a bag of 
sometliin' I found in the bin with the shorts,' " 
and Liddy paused for breath. 

" Queer place to keep it," interrupted Tapp. 

" Yes, I thought so, too. But Miz Bowles, she 
said 't was powder, — she used to shoot like airy- 
man when she was a girl, she said, — and she 's 
afraid to have it in the house, for fear a spark 
might reach it some way." 

" Where did she get it ? I 'd like to get some, 
too," cautiously pumped the peddler. 

" La, I can't say. I don't know what she wants 
of it, noway. She ain't got no gun now, leastways 
not as I know of. When I asked what 's the sense 
of havin' such dangerous truck 'round, she up and 
said she did n't reckon I could see sense in much of 
anythin', seein' I was mighty scarce of it ; that it 
was her business ; there was times when it might be 
needed, deserters, soldiers, and bounty-jumpers run- 
nin' 'round the country. And she brought some 
of it into the house. An' me that skeered of it ! " 

" You don't think you could let me have some, 
do you ? " 

" I reckon I might find you a little. But Miz 
Bowles is awful sharp about missin' things. . So 't 
won't be more than half a teacupful." True to 
her domestic instincts, Liddy Ann measured by 
what was most familiar. 

" Oh, that 's enough ! A little will go a good 
ways in this case ! " said Tapp, chuckling. 



172 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

Liddy Ann went to the old corner cup"board, 
and, standing on a chair, reached to the top shelf, 
and took down a cracked teapot, too worthless for 
use, yet kept for some association, after the strange 
manner of women. It was empty. She tried a 
decrepit sugar-bowl with like results ; and lastly 
peered into an old earthen jar, which likewise 
proved empty. 

" Why, they ain't none ! Whatever could Miz 
Bowles ha' done with it ! She filled them things, 
for I saw her." 

Her vapid face grew blanker, and the peddler 
looked disappointed. With a few words of part- 
ing, Tapp went away, and Liddy resumed her in- 
terrupted task. 

No sooner was the peddler out of sight than Mrs. 
Bowles softly opened the front door of the " parlor- 
room " and cautiously took her way to the wood, 
whence came the droning sound of sawing. Her 
face was livid with some emotion that was not fear ; 
it was that mingling of rage and disgust one feels 
at the involuntary baffling by a fool, from which 
there is no security when chance thrusts him into 
one's plans. 

The men. Alec Rush and Jake Burrows, were 
sawing, with the deliberation that comes of practice 
and promises long staying power. The bright yel- 
low sawdust showered down in little heaps, and 
the pungent odor of sap fi-om green logs filled the 
air and gave premonition of future trouble for the 
housewife from clouds of smoke. 



AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 173 

Hearing only the screech of the dull saw, they 
were not aware of Mrs. Bowles's presence until 
her harsh, dominant voice broke on their ears, 
causing them to stop work so suddenly that the 
saw quivered through its whole length in the heart 
of the log. 

'• Anybody here but you two?" she asked, with- 
out preliminary greetings. 

" Why, howd'y ! You pretty near sheered us, 
Mis' Bowles," said Alec Rush, with a good-natured 
laugh. " No, there ain't nobody here but us." 

" I always told you men folks not to be so fresh 
with that tin-peddler," she said, going straight to 
the point. " But you are such blinkards, you can't 
see an inch before your noses " — 

" Oh, pshaw now, Mis' Bowles, you 're that sus- 
picious," interrupted Jake. 

" And you 're such a trustin' fool, Jake Burrows! 
You '11 let anybody skin you out of your hide be- 
fore you know it." 

The man flushed angrily, but did not resent the 
taunt, for his reputation was established by a deal 
in " green goods," as he well knew. 

"What 'sup now?" 

" I told you a week ago to tell Harv Wilson to 
come and take off that stuff that 's in my bin." 

" La, now. Mis' Bowles, I clean forgot it ! I 
did for a fact ! " said Jake, with affability that 
exasperated Mrs. Bowles. 

" I might 'a' knowed I could n't trust a man to 
do anything ! " she said bitterly. 



174 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" What harm 's done ? " asked Alee, who with 
Jake's assistance was getting out firewood. He 
had allowed all his stock to be consumed, and in 
consequence was obliged to suspend his usual labor 
till his wife's wants were supplied, she having re- 
belled against picking up chips to cook with, that 
morning. 

Mrs. Bowles stepped close to the men and said, 
in a low, rasping undertone, " That man 's a spy ! " 

The men laughed. 

" Why, he knows all the ' grips ' clean through, 
from the Vestibule to the Third Degree. He 's 
helped institute every lodge in Middle County ! " 
cried Jake, who ardently supported the " cause." 

" And he 's got letters from 'em all, — even Val- 
landigham ! " said Alec, who, although he had left 
the order, knew their secrets and kept them invio- 
late for potent reasons. 

" We 're well acquainted with him," he said 
emphatically. 

" You 're well acquainted with him, but you 
don't hnow him till you go in the house and shet 
the door and live with him ! " she grimly insisted. 

" Why, woman, he 's a ' high muck-a-muck ' ! " 

" He ain't nothin' of the kind ! He 's a nigger- 
lover ! a black abolitionist ! a spy ! — and I can 
prove it ! " She then proceeded with a narration 
of Tapp's talk with Liddy Ann. 

" I 've always suspicioned him ! But you men 
never pay no attention to weemen-folks. You 're 
so much pearter ! " she said sarcastically. 



AN OBJECT OF SUSPICION 175 

" Looks something like it ! " admitted Jake. 

" Nobody knows what that fool Liddy Ann '11 
do next ! And that powder and shot must be took 
off this very night, and that there box marked 
' Sunday-school books ' too ! " 

And Mrs. Bowles turned abruptly into the path 
that led to Josh Miller's. 

The two men left the saw in the log and walked 
off toward the smithy. When they reached it they 
closed and locked the doors, and, with that utter 
lack of caution common to the unsophisticated, be- 
gan to talk the matter over. 

They had artlessly supposed that locking the 
door would be sufficient security against eaves- 
dropping or interruption. Moreover, Mrs. Rush 
did not know of their return, and she had been in- 
structed to tell any one in need of the blacksmith's 
service that he had gone to get firewood, a very 
valid excuse among them for suspending any task, 
for the claims of the cook were paramount to ordi- 
nary business, and time was not precious. 

The two men continued to talk in subdued tones 
compared to their robust, vehement ordinary out- 
of-door voices, but not so softly that they might 
not be heard by any one who cared to listen atten- 
tively. Indeed, their voices drowned the jangling 
of the harness as the peddler led his old white 
horse up to the shop. He, being always on the 
alert and quick of hearing, heard voices within and 
instantly caught his own name. 

Tapp paused and listened. 

Alec Rush said : — 



176 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" If the old woman 's right, and Tapp is a spy, 
it won't take Harv Wilson long to put him out of 
the way." 

" I reckon he '11 be at the meetin' at Harv's to- 
morrow night." 

" 'T won't take Harv that long ! He '11 do the 
business to-night ! " 

Tapp grasped the situation at once. He had 
been spied on by that "she-devil," as he called 
Mrs. Bowles, and he knew he must get away in- 
stantly. He led the horse back to the wagon, a 
quarter of a mile away, where he had left it in the 
creek to soak its rattling wheels while the shoe 
was being set. He harnessed slowly, to give the 
conspirators time, then drove leisurely up to the 
shop, singing loudly and blithely. His old horse 
drew up before the shop, and by this time the 
doors were standing wide open. 

Without a change from his usual cordial man- 
ner, Tapp called out cheerfully : — 

" Howd'y ! Glad to see you again ! Got a job 
for you. Alec. My horse has a loose shoe, and I 've 
got to make Crof ton to-day. Can you set it now ? " 

The smith looked somewhat red, and cast an 
uneasy look at his companion. Hardly able to 
control his embarrassment, he answered, "Yes, I 
reckon I can," and got his tools ready. 

Tapp laughed and jested till the shoe was set, 
and then, driving off with a cheery good-day, he 
resumed his tune, and was still singing as far as 
they could hear him. 



CHAPTER XX 

THE RESCUE 

As Tapp drove along the lonely by-road, the 
urgent necessity for speedy departure presented 
itself. 

" I 've got to get out of here instantly, that 's 
certain," he mused. " I must n't go to Crofton, 
for that'll put them on the sheriff's plans. It 
won't do to go to Neal's, for Frank is n't at home 
and I won't bother the old man. There 's not 
another loyal man I can look to in this section. 
Guess I '11 have to ask Lucetta Whittaker's help, 
as I once told her. She can pilot me in the dark 
over the ' backbone ' to the Greensboro road, and 
I can catch the midnight train. She 's brave and 
loyal. I want to get off without leaving a trace 
behind as to how or when I went. They '11 be after 
me like bloodhounds to-night, but I 'm used to 
throwing such brutes off the scent, and I '11 do it 
now. I must report to the governor before twenty- 
four hours." 

Tapp drove two miles farther on the Crofton 
road, when he reached a stretch of woods so densely 
grown with underbrush as to be impenetrable. 
Here he stopped, and, after carefully scanning the 



178 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

higliway up and down to assure himself no one 
was in sight, he alighted from the wagon and 
deliberately laid down the rail-fence and drove 
through the gap he had made. 

It was now about eleven o'clock, the universal 
dinner-hour thereabout, where the people break- 
fasted at break of day. Meals were the only things 
they attended to with unfailing punctuality, and 
the peddler knew that every one would be at din- 
ner. He carefully replaced the rails, drove into 
the woods as far as it was possible to make his 
way, unhitched and removed the harness from the 
old horse, which gave a great shake when free and 
at once began cropping grass. He then took the 
wagon and forced it deep into the coppice, till it 
could not be seen from any point ; he even straight- 
ened up the hazel boughs that he had bent, so as to 
leave no trace of disorder that any chance passer- 
by might notice. The sward was thick and left 
no wheel-tracks. He patted the old horse on the 
shoulder and said : — 

" Old Pomp, I 've got to leave you now for 
good, but you '11 not starve, and there 's plenty of 
water." 

Tapp walked straight on through the wood to 
where the line of sycamores indicated the course 
of Honey Creek. When he reached the creek he 
followed it down-stream, keeping out of the way 
of fishermen and persons in canoes, and losing a 
good deal of time in taking these precautions. In 
following the curves of the stream he walked nearly 



THE RESCUE 179 

five miles, and it was mid-afternoon when he reached 
the land whereon the Whittaker cabin stood. 

Mrs. Bowles's pea-fowl had not been a false 
prophet, for the sky was now overcast and a moist, 
fretting wind had risen. 

" If this wind lulls," mused Tapp, " it will rain 
to-night and be black as pitch. Now, sometimes 
girls are afraid of the dark when they are not 
afraid of the devil. They 're such contrary crea- 
tures ! " and he anxiously scanned the sky. 

He climbed the steep, narrow path from the 
landing, where Lucetta's canoe was bobbing gayly 
in the current, keeping a wary outlook, and, as his 
head came on a level with the field, gazed keenly 
around before he ventured out of the ravine. The 
stunted corn rustled in the teasing wind, birds flut- 
tered anxiously about in expectation of the storm, 
but there was neither sight nor sound of human 
folk, and he walked as unconcernedly up to the 
cabin as any other chance visitor would have done. 

He found Lucetta hard at work with a slate and 
algebra, for it had been definitely settled, by the 
aid of friends, that she was to enter Waveland 
Academy the second week of September to prepare 
herself for teaching. 

" Howd'y ! " he called out to the girl through the 
open door. " Don't want anything in my line, do 
you?" 

" Not to-day. I 'm glad to see you. Won't you 
come in ? " she said cordially, for they had long 
since formed an acquaintance. 



180 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

He accepted the invitation, and asked with cheery 
interest : — 

" Are you all alone ? I 'd think you 'd have the 
blue-devils here by yourself." 

" Yes, I am alone. When I 'm busy I don't 
get lonely." 

" There 's no one about, then, but you ? " 

She perceived a shade of anxiety in his manner, 
usually so jocose and happy. 

" No one. Nor has there been this whole after- 
noon. Miss Abbot's gone to write a letter for 
Uncle Billy to his son in the army." 

"I'm glad of that. Miss Lucetta, for I'm in 
a fix and no mistake. That old Bowles woman 's 
turned informer, and the whole pack will be on me 
to-night. Do you think you 've got enough grit to 
help a hunted man escape ? " and he looked at her 
smilingly, without the least show of fear. 

" You 're joking," she said, unable from his 
light manner to believe in his sincerity. 

"Never was more in earnest in my life. You 
remember what I told you the night of the jail 
delivery ? Well, it 's come." 

Lucetta started in surprise, and said hastily : — 

" It was you, then ? I 've often thought so." 

" Yes," said Tapp simply. 

" And you were the man I saw under the oak- 
tree, and the handkerchief was a signal to Frank in 
the bushes ? I have suspected so since, but have 
thought it safer not to know certainly about either 
of you." 



THE RESCUE 181 

" You are wise enough for a man to put his life 
in your hands," he said admiringly. " If Oliver 
Tapp don't get out of here this night, it 's all up 
with him ! " 

He then told her all that he had learned, and 
she was far more disturbed than he. 

" If you do fall into the hands of Wilson, he '11 
show you no mercy. You don't know him." 

" Don't I ! " said Tapp significantly. 

" But what can you do ? I can't think of a plan 
myself. Every road will be watched, even the 
crossings at the creek," said the girl. 

She meditated deeply a few moments. 

" I think I can take you through the ' Shades.' " 

" ' Shades ' ! That sounds rather ominous," in- 
terrupted Tapp flippantly. 

" I mean the wild glen, called the ' Shades,' three 
or four miles down the creek, not far from Wil- 
son's place. They '11 never think of your being 
bold enough to come into their own territory. We 
can go through that, and from there it is not far 
to the Greensboro road, where you can reach the 
railroad." 

" That 's good ! I want to get to Indianapolis 
as soon as I can. Must, in fact." 

" Of course you '11 have to stay here till night." 

" Yes, and the schoolma'am must n't know, 
either. The fewer people in the secret the better, 
besides being safer for Miss Abbot should she be 
questioned, for they call her a ' Black Abolitionist ' 
now, all over the neighborhood. You have never 



182 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

told your own exploits, I infer, or I should have 
heard of it." 

" Not to a soul ! Yes, you are right. I 'U keep 
this secret, too. Well, you can hide in the hay- 
mow till I come for you, and that will be when it 's 
safe." 

Tapp took up his hat to go, and Lucetta said : — 

" Wait, let me get you something to eat. You 've 
had no dinner. You'll need food for the long 
tramp you '11 have to take." 

" It would be welcome," confessed Tapp. " Just 
fix it up so I can take it to my retreat." 

At five o'clock Miss Abbot came home. The 
gray clouds hung low, and a drizzling rain set in. 

Lucetta had prepared supper, and after it was 
eaten and the night work done they settled down 
to their evening occupations, to which the pupil 
gave her usual composed attention. By eight 
o'clock, Miss Abbot, weary with the long day, 
sought her bed, leaving Lucetta still busy with her 
books. When she was convinced Miss Abbot was 
sleeping soundly, Lucetta changed her apparel, put- 
ting on the strong woolsey gown she wore about 
her rough morning work and her heavy calfskin 
shoes. She let herself out quietly, and when she 
reached the log barn she called softly within : — 

"Ready?" 

" Ready ! " came the reply, and she heard Tapp 
scramble down the side of the barn from the loft. 

" I 've had a good nap, and feel up to anything," 
he said cheerfully. 



THE RESCUE 183 

Slie could not but admire the buoyant courage 
of the man, which was prompted by genuine fear- 
lessness and sincere love of duty. She surmised 
that he was trusted in high places, from the fact 
that he had been given this commission involving 
disgrace, danger, even death, and that he accepted 
it cheerfully with all the risks it involved, for the 
good of the commonwealth. 

But she could not know what almost superhu- 
man effort it required to prevent the culmination 
in revolution of the widespread schemes which he 
had discovered. She supposed the most serious 
disaffection to be merely local and comparatively 
harmless, but not entirely without risk to those 
who actively opposed the malcontents. Neverthe- 
less, she took the part chance assigned her, and 
its occasions seemed to meet her continually ; not 
opportunities for the display of great valor that 
would furnish subjects for triumphal song, but 
obscure deeds that would never be known or re- 
warded. 

She and Tapp scrambled down the ravine path 
to the creek. The sky was overcast with clouds, 
which the rising wind marshaled like battalions, 
but the night was dark, though not of the pitchy 
blackness of a moonless sky ; for had that planet 
been visible, it would have been seen to be on the 
wane. 

He spoke for the first time when she unloosed 
the canoe. 

" I 'm sorry I can't help you, but I can't manage 



184 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

a canoe, and I 've no notion of landing us both in 
the water at this crisis." 

" I know the canoe as well as a rocking-chair, so 
leave it to me. You sit a little back of the centre, 
and, when we pass the fords and get into the riffle, 
sit quietly and be careful, or we '11 capsize." 

When they were seated, Lucetta took up her 
long paddle and shoved off, but kept well within 
shore, under the blacker duskiness of the over- 
hanging hemlocks, which here cast long shadows 
across the creek when there was light, and intensi- 
fied the obscurity. 

Suddenly there was a whippoorwill's call, then 
another and a third. 

" It 's late for whippoorwills," Lucetta said 
softly and unsuspiciously. " They call mostly at 
dusk." 

Tapp laughed a short, harsh laugh. 

" You don't mean " — she asked breathlessly. 

" I mean we 've got off just in the nick of time. 
The hunt 's begun," he said coolly. " Rest on 
your oar, let her go with the current. These coun- 
trymen have ears as sharp as weasels'." 

Lucetta did as he bade, using the paddle only to 
escape obstructions. The cries of the whippoor- 
wills grew fainter in the distance as they glided on. 

" We are going away from the hunt toward 
Harv Wilson's," Tapp observed. " They don't 
expect the game to run into the dog's kennel." 

" We leave the creek half a mile this side of 
Harv's," she said. 



THE RESCUE 185 

Once a long, wailing " O — a — k — houn " 
sounded, weirdly terrifying. Then only did Tapp 
seem in the least Impressed. 

" Ah ! the ' Third Degree ' is out ! Something 
like a slave-drive, minus the bloodhounds," he 
muttered. 

The drifting canoe was utterly noiseless, the 
waterway was deserted for the highways and by- 
ways by the man-hunters ; for it was well known 
by them that Tapp could not manage a canoe, as 
one attempt had ended in his ignominious ducking, 
to their great enjoyment. 

After hours, as it seemed to Lucetta, they 
reached the sheer cliff that indicated the precincts 
of the place known as the " Shades." At this 
point the cliff rose straight from the water to a 
height of two hundred and fifty feet, following the 
windings of the stream. At first sight it appeared 
to be an unbroken wall that it would be impossi- 
ble to scale. It was bare of verdure or shrubs of 
any kind. At the height of one hundred and fifty 
feet, there overhung a shelf - like projection of 
stone along its entire face, which, from the water- 
course below, seemed a ledge too narrow to furnish 
foothold for any creature but a bird. In one of 
the inward curves of this wall was a narrow cleft 
from top to bottom, which nature seemed to have 
riven for the outpouring of a " spring branch." 
But if one pushed through this narrow cleft and 
followed the stream, it led into a deep, dark can- 
yon on which the stranger came unaware, but 



186 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

which was well known to the inhabitants of that 
region. Nearly halfway through the canyon, a 
dome-shaped formation of stone filled up the pas- 
sage from side to side, and down its face fell the 
little brook, widespread in a thin, crinkled sheet 
like glass, and, only for its gentle lisping, it might 
have been taken for a crystal cap. The water did 
not dash down the declivity, but slid gently over 
with a soft murmur. A narrow, difficult track 
led to the top of this dome, and a long grapevine 
hung down accommodatingly to assist in the ascent, 
which was partly through the water. At the top, 
one path kej^t on to the spring in the head of the 
gorge, and the other branched upward to the cliff 
and led over the shelf on its face, which in some 
places narrowed to a few inches, and in others 
broadened to a width of several feet. On this 
aerial pathway, almost in the centre of the cliff, 
where the path turned inward in a sharp curve as 
though for greater privacy, was a deep niche in the 
stone wall, set as high above the path as a man's 
head, which could be reached only by an effort. 
Nature, in a pious mood, had seemingly fashioned 
it for a shrine, for no man knew its origin. As if 
to test the worshiper's sincerity, the path here con- 
tracted perilously, and was made more hazardous 
by the trickle of a thready rillet from a tiny 
spring imprisoned in the rock. 

But one person at a time could pass before this 
shrine, and then only with due caution, for a mis- 
step or a slip on the wet earth meant a fall of one 



THE RESCUE 187 

hundred and fifty feet down the bare, rugged walls 
to the water below, and from this inward curve 
one could neither see nor be seen beyond it on the 
track. This dangerous passage was a short cut to 
the Greensboro road, and was in frequent use by 
the people thereabouts. 

Lucetta left the canoe in the weeds, a little way 
from the mouth of the gorge, and took to the foot- 
path. As she entered the canyon, she began to 
explain her plan to Tapp, feeling now that there 
was no need of perfect silence between them. 

"This is a dangerous place at night, in one 
sense, but the safest in the other," she observed. 

They were well into the ravine, struggling up 
the dome, and black and gloomy it looked. Their 
nerves were at the highest tension, and the tum- 
bling of a stone sounded like thunder to their 
startled ears. The old moon, forlorn and weird, 
made a faint showing from the parted clouds, as 
they struggled up the steep incline and came to 
the divergence of the paths. 

" This is our way," said Lucetta, turning into 
it. " Harv Wilson's home lies half a mile farther 
down the creek, but they '11 hardly think of look- 
ing for us here ; we 're five miles from home." 

As she spoke, the shuddering cry, " O — a — k 
— houn ! " came down the creek, and was an- 
swered faintly far up the stream. 

" Great God ! " cried Tapp, losing self-control 
for the first time. " They 're right at our heels ! " 
looking back toward the creek. 



188 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

He turned fiercely to the girl. 

" Have you brought me here to trap me ? " 

In a passion of momentary rage, he drew out 
his revolver, but let the hand that held it fall to 
the length of his arm. 

" No ! I can't kill a woman, even if she is a 
traitor. But if you were a man," he said violently, 
" I 'd shoot you like a dog, and throw your cursed 
carcass down there ! " 

Horrified at his ferocity, Lucetta looked at him 
and said in a startled voice : — 

"You surely don't mean what you say? As 
God is my witness, I am your friend. Trust me, 
and I will help you out of this." 

Ashamed of his brutality, and the weakness of 
yielding to a natural fear, he said humbly : — 

" Forgive me ! I trust you. Go on ; I '11 fol- 
low, if you lead to hell ! " 

" Remember," she said quietly, " it leads me into 
the same danger." 

By this time they had reached the ledge which 
was the outlet to the safe road for him. They 
hurried along it breathlessly, with hearts beating 
thickly. When just under the shrine they paused 
to get breath, and Lucetta warned him of the 
danger of the path at this point. But an ominous 
sound reached them that chilled the sweat on their 
brows, and made the hair of their flesh to stand up. 
Fear clutched at their hearts like a great hand 
when they heard such noise in that lonely place. 
Feet were scrambling up the track they had just 



THE RESCUE 189 

left, while voices were heard in the other direction, 
some distance beyond the curve that hid them. 

" They promised to meet us here at midnight 
with the white-livered hound, if they caught him," 
said a savage voice Tapp knew to be Wilson's. 

With fierce imprecations the same voice con- 
tinued : " We '11 take care of the fellow if they get 
him. A fall down here '11 break his cursed neck, 
and such an accident 's likely to happen to any one 
coming along here at night, 'specially a stranger." 

Two or three voices joined in the laugh that 
followed this speech. 

" So," muttered Tapp, " that 's how you '11 take 
care of me ! ' 

Despairing of escape, but perfectly cool, he 
leaned against the wall, while Lucetta seemed stu- 
pefied for an instant. 

The two parties of men were now heard advan- 
cing slowly and carefully from each way. 

" It 's of no use to jump from here ; it would 
only be a worse death," thought Tapp. " A bullet 
would be quicker." 

He spoke the last words aloud, and the girl 
raised despairing eyes to his and saw, as her 
glance fell, the niche in the wall beside them. 

" Thank God for his mercy ! " she whispered. 
" I 'd forgot it." 

She caught the desperate man's arm and pointed 
to the niche. 

" Get up there quick ! " she said in an agitated 
whisper, " into the niche and drag me in after." 



190 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

He looked ; hope quickened his senses and made 
him agile. Gripping the rocks till the blood 
nearly burst from his finger-tips, he drew himself 
up into the sanctuary, then fell to his knees, and 
dragged up the girl. 

The patter of loose stones as they were displaced 
by on-coming feet sounded just below them. They 
crouched close together in the narrow refuge, wait- 
ing, spent with terror and exertion, as the men 
passed in Indian file below them. The first one 
slipped on the wet path, and swore savagely as he 
caught himself by clutching at the rocks in the 
wall. 

" Look out, boys ! there 's a spring here ; it 's 
as slick as the mouth of hell ! " 

Each man, intent on passing safely, bent his eyes 
to the path, — which was faintly lighted now by 
the moon that shone fitfully on the other side of 
the creek, — and gave no thought to anything but 
his own peril. They met the other party at the 
widening of the ledge, out of sight, but in full 
hearing of Tapp and Lucetta, and reported their 
failure. With curses and threats, the whole party 
turned back toward Wilson's. 



CHAPTER XXI 

THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR 

The governor sat late in his private office in 
the State-house. He was talking quietly to three 
gentlemen seated about the table with him. One 
was the adjutant-general of the state militia, Gen- 
eral Hovey ; the second, the provost - marshal for 
the city. Colonel "Wells ; and the third, Brigadier- 
General Carrington, in command of the district 
of Indiana. Their conversation was desultory and 
they had the appearance of awaiting some event. 

Of the four men, Governor Morton's personality 
was the most impressive, as it was likely to be in 
whatsoever company. The massive nobleness of 
his head at once attracted notice ; and his counte- 
nance expressed strong intellectuality and inflex- 
ible determination, tempered by benevolence. The 
forehead was high and full, across which strands 
of black hair fell, carelessly displaced by the rest- 
less hand now stroking the full black beard ; the 
eyes were dark and piercing, as if potent to see 
far beyond the black wall of trouble and danger 
that encompassed him ; the nose was too small to 
be symmetrical ; and the chin unequally balanced 
the brow and skull. 



192 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

Morton could weigh men's motives and gauge 
their sincerity with marvelous accuracy. In these 
days of peril and perplexity, caution to the point 
of suspicion had to be exercised in the selection of 
advisers, and his tact and acumen were equal to 
the emergency. He acknowledged the patriotism 
and loyalty of his political opponents by num- 
bering them among his advisers, and trusting to 
them the execution of his plans. Of strong polit- 
ical convictions, he was no narrow partisan when 
the occasion demanded the help of all loyal men. 
Consequently he had their support and confidence 
to such an extent that he brought the State of 
Indiana through a crisis such as endangered no 
other. He made a needful few the repository of 
state secrets, but these he trusted entirely. 

In his intercom'se with his councilors he was 
the genial friend, but also the man of authority, 
vested in him as the governor of a great State, 
which he neither magnified nor disparaged. 

He habitually used a low, well-modulated tone in 
conversation. His voice was a wonderful organ, 
the perfect instrument of an orator. In public 
speaking it was clarion-like, piercing and far-reach- 
ing. It rolled in tremendous vehemence over an 
audience, and held it entranced by the flow of 
rapid eloquence, or fell to pathetic sweetness that 
swept over their heart-strings like the fingers of 
Saul across his harp, and moved them to tears. 

Splendid in invective, scathing in denunciation, 
courageous to recklessness in the expression of 



THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR A93 

his opinions, a master of facts, logical in argument, 
never truckling from expediency nor shrinking 
from duty, patient to long-suffering, and just, — 
with such qualities Morton had few peers in state- 
craft. 

He was the greatest of that trio — Yates, Todd, 
and Morton — on whom fell responsibilities, during 
the Civil War, second only to those of the great 
head of the nation. Whatever feeling of ill-will 
was cherished then against Morton, time has left 
nothing but grateful remembrance of faithfulness, 
courage, and ability to govern wisely amid the 
distractions of a second chaos. 

The men who were the instruments chosen to 
preserve us a nation were not from those living on 
the highest spiritual plane, but from the strong, 
intrepid worldlings accustomed to leading men by 
craft and virile power. Ardent John Brown, ve- 
hement Parson Brownlow, calm William Lloyd 
Garrison, elegant Wendell Phillips, even peevish 
Horace Greeley, took a minor part in precipitating 
the conflict, but in the crisis made way for men 
like Grant, Morton, Lincoln, — men of stronger 
fibre, lustier energy. 

As the governor sat at the table, he glanced once 
or twice at the round-faced clock on the wall; 
turning to General Carrington, he said : — 

" Is n't it time Grundy was here to report ? " 

" Yes, sir. He said at ten o'clock ; it lacks only 
a minute or so of that hour." 

All waited patiently for the interval to pass, and, 



194 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

before it was gone, a gentle rapping was heard on 
the door which led into the outer office. 

"Please open it, Hovey," said the governor. 

Hovey unlocked the door, and the man awaited 
entered. It was the tin-peddler, known about 
Ridgely as Oliver Tapp, and to the governor and 
his confreres as J. J. Grundy. After salutations 
were exchanged, the four men drew closer to the 
table where the governor was seated. Tapp laid 
before Morton a number of papers. These he 
examined carefully, and compared from time to 
time with a memorandum he had at hand. He 
then passed them to his colleagues, who glanced 
over them. All looked serious ; but if they felt 
depressed at the report of the agent of the secret 
service, they made no remark. 

Selecting one of the papers, the governor said to 
Tapp : — 

" I am afraid you are unnecessarily reckless, 
Mr. Grundy, but you have certainly made a thor- 
ough investigation of the affairs in Middle County, 
and I thank you for it." 

" Of course, there is more or less risk involved 
in such a mission, and perhaps in some particulars 
I exceeded my authority, but you remember, sir, 
I was left to my own judgment. They were such 
rank Copperheads that I was determined to get 
into their most secret schemes. I therefore com- 
menced at the ' Vestibule,' and went on up through 
the Temple, taking the three highest degrees, and 
I have the honor of belonging to the Grand Coun- 



THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR 195 

cil. On my last trip to RIdgely I came near not 
getting away," and he laughed his reckless laugh. 

" How was that, Grundy ? " asked Hovey. 

" If it had n't been for a girl, I 'd been a cold 
corpse by now," and he detailed with much feeling 
the part Lucetta had played in the stirring affairs 
of the township and in his rescue. 

" There are a few loyal men that can be trusted, 
are there not ? " 

" Yes, a few among the old men ; the young 
men are in the service ; and there are a few women 
as fearless and courageous as the men in the field." 

" This Wilson," asked the governor, tapping a 
paper he had just been considering, " is still at the 
head of affairs in that county ? " 

" Yes ; he and Coultiss, who is Grand Com- 
mander of the County Temple, but Harv 's the 
' power behind the throne.' " 

" They are in constant communication with 
Grand Commander Dodd here ? " 

" Yes, sir ; and through him, with Supreme 
Commander Vallandigham at Windsor." 

*' You think the scheme for the uprising almost 
perfected ? " 

" Yes, sir ; complete to the most trivial point. 
You would hardly credit them with inventing such 
fantastic folly ; they have grips and signs, and a 
distinguishing cry for each degree. Down in Rif- 
fle Township, when they want to call a secret ses- 
sion they put up a big tin star on a tree. Yes, 
the time is set for the middle of August." 



196 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

Governor Morton's face was not moved from its 
accustomed calm, but the others started in surprise. 

" Tliey have learned nothing from the events of 
last summer," observed Carrington. 

" There is no school for fools," said the adjutant- 
general. 

"You think their plans are all formulated, 
Grundy?" asked the governor. 

" As well as they can be, until they meet the 
approval of the Supreme Commander, and you 
may not know that the meeting of the peace com- 
missioners this week, at Niagara Falls, will be 
utilized by the Grand Council to that end." 

" Their present plans may be modified at this 
meeting?" observed Morton inquiringly. 

" Yes, unless the President remains firm in his 
decision as to the terms of peace." 

" Would it not be well if Mr. Grundy would 
give us an outline of the scheme as he has learned 
it. Governor ? " asked Wells. " He may give us 
fuller information than we now have." 

" Perhaj)s it would be as well," assented the 
governor. " Proceed, Mr. Grundy." 

" The day of the uprising was set for July 
20, but they were not sufficiently organized and 
equipped, so Wilson informed me, and it was 
postponed. And that reminds me, there is an old 
woman down there that has a hand in this last 
business, — old Mrs. Bowles, as venomous a Cojj- 
perhead as ever dragged on its belly ; last spring I 
reported her to you, sir, as having received arms 



THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR 197 

under the guise of a cutting-box, and myself deliv- 
ering her caps and cartridges. This time she was 
more discreet, and I could find little against her, 
but she has evidently been at her old tricks," and 
Tapp smiled at the recollection of the guileless 
Liddy Ann. " But to return to Harv : he told 
me every Temple in the State — and they are or- 
ganized in forty-five counties — had been notified 
to move at a moment's notice by the middle of 
August. The plan in this State is to concentrate 
the main body in Indianapolis. The arsenal is to 
be seized. Camp Morton raided and rebel prisoners 
released. And to-morrow night, sir," turning to 
the governor, " at the Grand Council the Commit- 
tee of Thirteen will be appointed, who will be em- 
powered to select a Committee of Ten ' to take 
care of the governor.' " 

Morton's face relaxed slightly, but he made no 
remark. 

" What do they mean by that, Grundy ? " asked 
the provost-marshal. Wells. 

" Murder, in my opinion. He is to be held as a 
hostage for prisoners taken during the insurrec- 
tion ; failing that, he is to be made way with." 

" Then it is n't definitely decided on whom this 
dutyfaUs?" 

" No, only on one of the Committee of Ten, and 
that by lot, so that even they will not know the 
person who draws it." 

" It would be well to be present at that council, 
Grundy," observed the governor. 



198 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" I intend to, sir. And one of that Committee 
of Thirteen, if I can manage it." 

General Carrington was not quite satisfied with 
the information Tapp gave on one point, and 
asked : — 

" Did you learn the extent of the entire order 
as a military organization ? " 

" In the Grand Council of June 14 they re- 
ported they could raise an invading army of three 
hundred thousand. They have plenty of money ; 
a haK-million dollars was sent by their agents in 
Canada for arms. Indiana is divided into four 
military districts, each under a general, and they 
claim they can furnish from seventy-five to eighty 
thousand men. Wilson says Middle County will 
send nine himdred ; but it won't, by half that." 

" Whom do they rely on to supply the rest of 
this three hundred thousand ? " asked the provost- 
marshal. 

" They expect to be joined by Early from Ken- 
tucky with forty thousand, and Price from Mis- 
souri with thirty thousand ; the Temples of Illinois 
promise fifty thousand ; Ohio does n't stipulate 
an exact number, but has engaged to cooperate. 
They have depots for arms in Cincinnati and New 
Albany, and they are to be wagoned to the rural 
districts. Old Dr. Bowles asked me if I could 
get three thousand lances ; he seemed to think 
them appropriate for Knights, — struck with the 
romance of it, I suppose, but he did not propose 
to rely on these altogether, for a revolver was to 
go with each lance." 



THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR 199 

" Was this information communicated to the 
various temples in writing, Mr. Grundy ? " asked 
the governor. 

" Not to my knowledge, though possibly cipher 
was used, but I think it was communicated to all 
verbally by agents." 

The governor spread before him a letter he had 
taken from the table drawer. 

" Are you familiar with cipher, Grundy ? " he 
asked. 

" Yes, sir ; I can read it, not readily, however." 

" Transcribe this, then." And to Tapp's amaze- 
ment he put into his hand the identical letter he 
had seen two days before in Heffren's office in the 
town of Salem. 

" We have more than one way of obtaining in- 
formation, Mr. Grundy," was all Morton said. 

Tapp took the letter, and after some time laid it 
before the governor, written out in full. 

It ran thus : — 

Headquarters 10th District, 

Grand Marshal's Office. 

Deputy Marshal, — We have 40 rifles and 100 
pistols for your township. It is necessary that 
they are placed in the hands of our brothers imme- 
diately. Inform your company that the arms will be 
ready on Wednesday night. Yours, 

A. A. D. C. 
F. W. 

Governor Morton read it through deliberately, 
then said to Tapp : — 



200 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" Your transcription tallies exactly with the one 
Coffin made to-day." 

Tapp looked in admiration at the man who was 
slowly and patiently picking up the smallest threads 
of the conspiracy, and winding them into a stout 
coil by which to throttle the conspirators. 

" There is one hitch in all these plans," said 
Tapp. 

" What is that? " inquired Wells. 

"There is no reliable head. Vallandighara is 
a rash enthusiast ; Dodd is a man of straw ; Bowles 
is too old ; and Bullet 's in prison. Price and Early 
would lose their heads in this sort of a thing." 

" What about Jeff Davis ? " asked Hovey. 

" Oh, he is fully informed by an agent sent to 
Richmond, a fellow named Dickerson. He has 
never had perfect confidence in the order ; and if he 
fails them, as they now think, they will join forces 
with the renegades in Canada and form a new 
federation, and will call it the Northwestern Con- 
federacy." 

The governor smiled, and the other men received 
this intelligence as prompted by their tempera- 
ments. General Carrington laughed heartily at 
the effrontery of it ; General Hovey's face flushed 
with anger, and he muttered invectives wrathful 
and profane ; Wells looked incredulous. The gov- 
ernor alone remained unmoved ; for he had unrav- 
eled so many plots and counterplots it had become 
as easy as unraveling Mrs. Bowles's knitting. 

" There is another matter of which I would like 



THE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR 201 

to speak, if you will pardon the personal nature of 
it," said Tapp, with evident reluctance. " You 
know I have visited all the disaffected districts, 
and I find another grievance, and that exclusively 
among loyal men, — extremists, I might say. They 
strongly criticise your selecting as advisers, and 
honoring with your confidence, men from the other 
party, ' War Democrats,' and openly complain at 
the trust you repose in them." 

The governor listened attentively, and then said 
firmly : — 

" You were perfectly rfght to tell me, Grundy. 
But, when I am convinced of his loyalty, I ques- 
tion no man's politics in such times as these." ^ 

The governor mused a few moments, as if con- 
sidering this new source of trouble, then, rousing, 
said : — 

"It is growing late, gentlemen. I will detain 
you no longer." 

Mr. Morton remained alone in the state-house 

an hour longer, busy at his desk. On leaving the 

building, he had taken but a step or two into the 

grounds, which were ill-lighted and full of shrubs 

and trees, when a shot rang out and a bullet 

whizzed by his head. He paused an instant and 

looked about for the would-be assassin, then calmly 

proceeded to the Bates House, where Carrington's 

headquarters were, and reported the matter to 

him. 

^ Verbatim. 



CHAPTER XXII 
THE MEETING OF THE GRAIO) COUNCIL 

The commanders of the county temples had 
been notified in cipher that a meeting of the great- 
est importance would be held in the printing-office 
of Grand Commander Dodd, at Indianapolis, on 
the evening of Tuesday, July 28, and such com- 
manders of branch temples as might be useful in 
a very serious crisis were ordered to be present. 
The meeting was of such importance that not a 
hint of it must be dropped to the masses of the 
faithful, but kept inviolate by the chosen few. 

Tapp had been duly notified of this meeting on 
the first day of his arrival at Ridgely, before he 
had gone to Mrs. Bowles's. He had met Wilson at 
the little wooden post-office, in the presence of the 
assembled loafers, who were tilted back in their 
chairs against the side of the building, protected 
from the July sun by the deep shadow it cast, and 
chewing tobacco as placidly as cows do their cuds. 
Occasionally a drowsy word was dropped as from 
a man talking in his sleep, while the company 
waited for the hack to bring the tri-weekly mail 
from Crofton. The ring of horseshoes sounded 
sharply from the rear of the smithy, where others 



THE MEETING OF THE GRAND COUNCIL 203 

were playing quoits, and occasionally a somnolent 
loafer would rouse and drag himself off to see how 
the game was progressing. 

In one of these slight diversions Harv said aside 
to Tapp : — 

" I want to talk to you. Can you drive my way ? 
You go first." 

Tapp replied, " All right," and set off on the 
dusty street that dipped down the hill to Honey 
Creek. Harv followed a few moments later and 
overtook him at the ford, where he began abruptly : 

" I had a notice from the General Secretary that 
all of us commanders must be in Indianapolis the 
28th. Something important up, I reckon. I can't 
go ; I 've got threshing that day. But there 's 
nothing in your way, so you'd better go. As 
a member of the Supreme Council of Kentucky, 
you'd be more than welcome. Coultiss can't go 
neither ; he 's threatened with typhoid fever." 

Tapp accepted the mission, and was given the 
password and a line of recommendation. The next 
night he was hunted like vermin by the very man 
for whom he had agreed to stand substitute at the 
meeting of the Grand Council. 

Harv never dreamed of Tapp having the temer- 
ity to carry out this plan of representing him ; 
therefore he made no attempt to notify Dodd : nor 
could he quite believe Mrs. Bowles's suspicions in 
regard to him correct, although he had so far 
yielded to her will as to try to apprehend him. 
Not finding a trace of him, nor any other suspicious 



204 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

fact against him, he concluded it was only old Mrs. 
Bowles's prejudice against Tapj) as a man, such as 
she held, as they well knew, against them all. 

The hour of ten o'clock on Tuesday night saw 
Tapp climbing the narrow, dirty stairs that led to 

the fourth floor of a dingy building on W street 

in the capital. When he reached a door profusely 
decorated with black thumb-marks in printer's ink, 
he knew he was at the appointed place. 

He was admitted to an outer room by a door- 
keeper, with whom he entered into a short colloquy. 
At the committee-room door the password was 
demanded. 

" Ba-YARD," said Tapp unhesitatingly, strongly 
accenting the last syllable, which was the test of 
membership. 

When he entered this second room, — a dingy 
private office, which was very small, with one win- 
dow overlooking the street, — he found a company 
of men gathered there. 

The meeting was not a formal one, but had been 
hastily called together for consultation, owing to 
the serious failure of the plans of the week before. 
Only Dodd, the Grand Commander, and Heffren, 
Deputy Grand Commander, had authority to call 
such a meeting. 

Among those present were four generals of the 
order, and the trusted heads of a dozen or more 
county temples. Middle County was not repre- 
sented, as Tapp was relieved to see. 



THE MEETING OF THE GRAND COUNCIL 205 

Tlie meeting came to order, but the business 
proceeded informally. The men were scattered 
about the room, seated or standing. The air was 
heavy with tobacco smoke and the smell of printer's 
ink. Tapp took a position near the door of en- 
trance, leaning against the wall. In front of him 
stood a burly man who completely hid him from 
view. 

Dodd presided over the meeting, and Harrison 
acted as secretary. The names of the Grand 
Council were called, among them that of Harv 
Wilson, who was absent. 

" We are called together here," said Dodd, " to 
decide a very serious matter. To-morrow an ex- 
pose will appear in the ' Journal.' BuUett is even 
now under arrest as a United States prisoner, ap- 
prehended on information of spies. There 's a 
traitor in the Council somewhere. The time has 
come for prompt action. The meeting is open to 
any gentleman who has anything to say pertinent 
to the subject under consideration." 

A tall, gaunt man arose and said : — 

"You know I advised getting rid of Coffin at 
the June meeting of the Grand Council. How any 
one here could have admitted him to the Council 
passes my understanding. I am convinced he is a 
United States detective. He, and the one man 
who, next to that monster usurper in the White 
House, is our greatest enemy, — Morton, — should 
be taken care of, put out of the way ! And I would 
suggest that the Committee of Thirteen be empow- 



206 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

ered at once to appoint a Committee of Ten for 
this purpose." And the gentleman subsided. 

" But the trouble is, would n't that be regarded 
as murder by most people ? " bluntly asked the 
burly man in front of Tapp, who seemed unpre- 
pared to go to the length of the speaker and such 
fanatics as Bowles, Dodd, and Milligan. 

" For the good of the cause, man, tyrants and 
traitors must be removed ! " interrupted the chair- 
man. 

" Well, you may assassinate, if you like ; I 'm 
not of that stripe. I 'm in for fair fight." 

" Gentlemen, gentlemen, we must have ' union ' 
among ourselves, if not the States, if we do effec- 
tive work," said Heffren, with the Judas-like smile 
and suavity characteristic of him. He might easily 
have been a leader but for some weakness of his 
moral fibre that caused him to yield under great 
pressure. He was not strong enough to face 
bravely the results of his own treason, and added 
to cowardice the meanness of turning informer. 

" I thought this organization was for the pur- 
pose of resisting the draft and stopping this war," 
observed Tapp, pacifically. 

" So it was, young man," answered the gaunt 
man that had spoken before, 

" But there are greater issues behind it, Dodd," 
he said, turning to him. " You 're fully posted ; 
tell us exactly how affairs stand." 

" Until this evening's paper came out, I thought 
everything was going on all right," said Dodd 



THE MEETING OF THE GRAND COUNCIL 207 

ruefully. "As you know, I went to the Peace 
Conference at Niagara Falls and had a private 
conference with Clay, Holcombe, and Saunders, 
and we enjoyed many a laugh at the doddering 
marplot old Abe sent. We managed to let Clay 
and those fellows know a good deal, and they were 
in full sympathy with us. I sent a full report of 
our organization to the commander-in-chief of the 
Confederacy by them." 

"How did these men personally receive the 
cause ? " 

" Very kindly, and as furthering their own. 
They did not offer their help, but would be glad 
of ours. They agreed with President Davis that, 
' the war would end when their independence was 
recognized, and that they would have or extermi- 
nation.' " 

" Selfish devils ! They care precious little for 
our necks ! " interjected Tapp, who instantly saw 
he had struck a false chord and tried another 
move to restore harmony. 

" You went from there to Chicago, Mr. Dodd ? " 

" Yes. The secret meetings of that convention 
did more effective work than the public ones. We 
decided, for one thing, to set a date for the general 
uprising of the order." 

The news was received quietly by most, as if it 
were long anticipated, but to a few it came in the 
nature of a shock. 

" What 's the date ? " asked Tapp's portly neigh- 
bor. 



208 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" The 16th of August." 

" How do you propose to accomplish it ? " asked 
a frowzy man perched on a printer's stool, who 
had hitherto been silent. 

" Well, we '11 have to look to the individual 
members of the order, especially the commanders 
of the temples. They must be brave and prompt. 
We '11 not let the country members in general 
know too soon, for they might back out with too 
much time to think about it. It 's got to be sharp 
work ! The men must be in readiness to move at 
a moment's notice, and will be collected in secret 
camps the night before, when necessary. We will 
concentrate the troops here." 

"You will surely have some project to mask this 
movement, to divert suspicion?" exclaimed Tapp, 
surprised at Dodd's infatuation. " You don't think 
the Home Guard or the Regulars will permit it 
without opposition ? " 

" Oh, I hope to influence the State Central Com- 
mittee to call a mass meeting here for that date. 
I will notify by circulars the commanders of the 
Temples, who will be ordered to come, armed and 
ready, as fast as possible. I will take it on myself 
to release the prisoners at Camp Morton, who will 
give us substantial help. We will seize the arsenal 
and the person of the governor, whom we will 
turn over to the Committee of Ten." 

" How can you do all this on your own responsi- 
bility?" asked Tapp quietly. 

" By the power of my official capacity as Grand 
Commander of this State ! " 



THE MEETING OF THE GRAND COUNCIL 209 

" I was not aware it was so great," said Tapp 
apologetically. 

" Yes ; it is vested in me to lead the uprising in 
this State," and his eyes shone with gratified vanity. 

" When I stick my head in a hornet's nest," 
said Tapp's neighbor, " I want to know how I 'm 
goin' to get out without gettin' stung! Unfold 
your plans further, if you please, Mr. Dodd." 

" Oh, we '11 have plenty of outside help. While 
we are at work here at Indianapolis, Captain Hines 
will release the prisoners at Johnson's Island. 
The southern districts will call their members to 
arms to assist Buckner, who will come in from 
Kentucky. Price will advance from Missouri, and 
Illinois and Ohio will be ready at notice. Oh, it 's 
thoroughly planned and cannot fail ! " 

Tapp looked on him, astonished at his assurance. 
He concluded he must be crazed, or a colossal 
egotist, to imagine himself capable of successfully 
executing so Napoleonic a scheme. 

" Do you for an instant think you can accom- 
plish this, with the military sleeping on their arms, 
Morton fully informed, and an expose in cold type 
at this moment ? " he asked, amazed at his fatuity. 

" It remains to be seen how much they know to 
expose. Probably it is not more than the disclo- 
sure of the ritual, or signs and grips. That won't 
amount to much. I '11 be sworn the grand object 
is not known." 

At this moment there was a fumbling at the 
door, which caused some uneasiness, for several 



210 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

persons showed signs of taking sudden departure. 
The door was opened to admit a newcomer, whom 
Tapp was horrified to see was Wilson. Two or 
three men took occasion to leave on his entrance, 
and Tapp slipped out with them. So well screened 
was he by his portly neighbor that he was not 
observed by Harv, who eventually took the place 
on the Committee of Thirteen Tapp had jocularly 
chosen for himself, and that very night helped 
name the Committee of Ten " to take care of the 
governor." 



CHAPTER XXIII 

MRS. NEAL's guest 

Frank Neal was duly discharged, and returned 
home by the middle of July. He was somewhat 
sobered by his experiences in the service, was more 
manly, and had a closer grip on his impulses ; he 
would hardly have repeated the scene in Liberty 
Church now, even under provocation ; but nothing 
could entirely change his active, lively tempera- 
ment. His mother had looked forward to having 
her boy with her, but he himself seemed to have 
quite different plans. He was gone all day and 
every day, and never explained the nature of his 
occupation. There was a distinct separation at 
this time between neighbors differing politically. 
All the homely social gatherings had been aban- 
doned ; the Fourth of July barbecue had not been 
held. It was a time of intense political feeling, 
for there were three distinct parties in the field. 
McClellan was the ostensible candidate of the De- 
mocracy, while Lincoln had been nominated for 
reelection. Hundreds of War Democrats, fearfid 
of a change of administration at what seemed the 
critical point of the war, openly supported Lincoln. 
Campaign meetings were almost riots. Something 



212 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

of stJlen brooding in the political sky gave portent 
of a terrific storm, and, like the gathering of clouds 
before the impact which lets loose the thunderbolt, 
there was much hurrying to and fro of Harv's 
fuglemen, over whom Harv's control was now com- 
plete. Frank watched these men closely, and drew 
his own conclusions of future trouble. 

He had made, as in friendliness bound, several 
calls at the cabin, and would have been more than 
pleased at the outward change in Lucetta, had he 
not been absorbed in other more exciting affairs. 
The mental change in the girl had been quite as 
great, but when did the mental graces of a woman 
ever appeal to a man with the potency of physical 
beauty ? The desire of the eye must first be grati- 
fied ; and fools are quite as satisfying, if they be 
pretty fools, at a certain stage of man's existence. 

One day early in August, Frank came in to din- 
ner and said, as if he were asking the most ordinary 
favor, and without a sign of embarrassment : — 

" Mother, I wish you would ask Miss Abbot and 
Lucetta to spend the whole of next week here." 

" 'T seems to me you see enough of the girl with- 
out my doing that," said his mother, with the innate 
jealousy a woman feels toward one of her sex in 
whom her " men-folks " take too lively an interest, 
and which, doubtless. Eve felt for her first daugh- 
ter-in-law. 

" Why, mother, I've hardly seen Lucetta at all 
since I 've been home. You know I 've been too 
busy." 



MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 213 

" Yes, awful busy. Too busy to tell your own 
mother what you 're doin'." Secrets were another 
cause of discontent. 

" Will it satisfy you, mother, if I say to you in 
strictest confidence that, if I were to tell you what 
I 'm doing, I would betray a trust fit to hang 
me ? I have my orders, and those a soldier obeys. 
As to Lucetta, I 've quite another motive for want- 
ing her here, which you '11 find out soon enough. 
Though I must say Lucetta 's got to be a mighty 
good-looking girl," he added mischievously, watch- 
ing her face cloud and her lips puff out in silent 
disapproval. 

Being fully aware of the condition of affairs in 
the neighborhood, Mrs. Neal was able to guess 
pretty accurately at Frank's motives. 

" I should think it 'd be mighty unpleasant for 
Lucetta to visit here when her pap all but mur- 
dered us in our beds," she could not refrain from 
saying, with a touch of resentful spite the unfor- 
giving recipient feels toward an unloved benefactor. 
She could not overlook Lucetta's parentage. 

" Mother, you don't really mean what you seem 
to. After all she did for us ! Besides, Lucy 's 
done more than a dozen men for " — And he 
broke off abruptly. 

"If it comes to scolding your own mother for 
that chit, I know what '11 come next. You '11 be 
wanting to marry her, and disgrace us all." 

" Marry ? marry ? I have n't heart to even give 
it thought, when the country 's going to pieces, with 



214 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

cutthroats and traitors plotting its ruin at our 
very doors," said Frank hotly. " Not that Lucy 
is not a good enough girl for any man," he said 
sturdily, an immense concession for one of his sex, 
and his mother recognized it, and said aggravat- 
ingly : — 

" I thought so ! " 

Frank, exasperated, said no more but turned to 
leave the room, and, as he opened the door and 
passed over the threshold, said coldly : — 

" We '11 say no more about it, mother. Sheriff 
Hale will take her in." And he walked off down 
toward the road to the creek, leaving Mrs. Neal 
vexed with motherly jealousy, and repentant with 
motherly compunction. 

Mrs. Neal thought intently for some moments 
about their irritating difference, and then said 
aloud : — 

" It 's nature, I reckon. But I do hope Frank — 
First that Swazey, then that Tapp, now — Well, 
I '11 go and ask her myself," which was surely as 
great a self -surrender as any one is capable of, 
be she of high or low degree. Moreover, she was 
a mother, — one who receives a most poignant 
wound when she is supplanted in the affection of 
her son by another woman. 

Frank proceeded to the creek, where he got into 
his " dugout," and by his strong use of the paddle, 
to which irritation lent force, soon covered the half 
mile to the Whittaker landing. 

W hen he reached the door, Lucetta was sitting 



MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 215 

within the room sewing busily, and until he spoke 
was unconscious of his presence. 

" AVhy, Frank, you walk as light as an Indian ! 
I never heard you. Come in." 

Frank entered, and when he was seated, asked 
" if the schoolmarm was at home ? " 

" No, she had to go to Crof ton to obtain her 
license, and she thought she might as well visit 
some of her friends in town before school begins 
in September. She '11 be gone two weeks." 

" And you 're not afraid to stay here alone ? 
You ought to be a soldier, Lucy." 

" I 'd like to be, Frank. If I were a man I 
would be. How men can skulk and hide and be 
so afraid of the draft passes me." 

" That 's not the worst of it, Lucy," said Frank 
gravely. " If they did n't skulk and hide for such 
treasonable purposes, the mere matter of coward- 
ice would n't count. The way the women have 
taken it up, too, is a wonder to me ; there 's old 
Mrs. Bowles ; she could have her neck stretched 
for what she 's already done and intends to do. It 
is n't a woman's business." 

" That 's just where you are mistaken, Frank. 
You men seem to think women can't feel patriot- 
ism, or enthusiasm for a cause ; that such virtues 
belong only to men. I never have read much, but 
Miss Abbot has been teaching me history ; and 
there never has been, no, nor ever will be, a war 
that we women did not feel the right and wrong of 
it as strongly as men. We must bear it passively, 



216 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

and stay at home in that suspense which often ends 
in slow heart-break that is worse than death in 
battle. Don't you know, Frank, if we could be 
in the thick of it, we 'd feel the fighting frenzy as 
keenly as you ? All men don't fight well. Ours 
is the cruelest part in war, to receive the dead 
and bury them from sight ; to see the danger and 
ruin that threatens all around, and feel that we 
are powerless utterly ! In such times, men push 
women behind them, forget them or sneer at them, 
and the flimsy veil of courtsey is dropped entirely." 

Frank was abashed for a moment at this pas- 
sionate outburst, and felt that his mission as pro- 
tector of the weak was a sinecure. He did not 
know that it was the overflow of thoughts which 
had occupied her at her sewing, when a woman 
who is at all reflective will ponder on all manner 
of unforbidden themes that rarely find utterance. 
Frank had unwittingly opened the sluice - gates, 
and out rushed Lucetta's broodings in a vehement 
flood. 

But he rallied his manly vanity, and said pa- 
tronizingly : — 

" But you see, Lucy, they can't handle a mus- 
ket or sword. Most of 'em faint at the sight of 
blood." 

" Yes, some do. But it is a woman's work to 
wash away that blood and bind up those wounds, 
— how well, you ought to know. The loyal women 
of the North have helped the Union cause in this 
dreadful war. Why, in this very county twenty 



MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 217 

women are running their farms, ploughing, plant- 
ing, and harvesting, just like men. It is n't ' their 
work,' but they can do it when it must be done." 

" That 's so, Lucy. If these cowardly brutes 
about here who won't go to the front would stand 
by the government half as well, — which they don't, 
mind you, — this war would soon be over. The 
rebels themselves have exhausted their resources, 
and their only hope is help from these valiant 
skulkers, the Knights of the Golden Circle. Well, 
the test of courage and loyalty will soon come, 
and that 's what I 'm here to talk to you about." 

He proceeded to explain the existing conditions, 
and the inevitable issue, at which Lucy showed no 
surprise ; and he finished by saying : — 

" It is n't at all safe for you, or any woman, to 
stay here alone for at least two weeks. By then, 
we think, the danger will be past." 

" I shall stay," said Lucetta qviietly. 

" But, Lucy, that is foolhardy, after all I 've 
told you." 

" That does n't affect me personally." 

" But it may, and that vitally. No, you 've got 
to go ! " he said sternly. 

She looked at him steadily and answered : — 

" That is a word no one on earth has a right to 
use to me. I am over eighteen, and there is no 
one to decide my line of action but myself. I 
shall stay. Besides, I 'm not afraid." 

" But, Lucy," he pleaded, — "I don't mean to 
dictate ; I only had in mind your safety, — it 



218 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

will be like courting danger to stay here, even 
with Miss Abbot ; but alone — If only mother 
would " — 

He stopped abruptly, warned by the flush which 
rose to Lucetta's face that she had jumped to the 
right conclusion, — his mother's unwillingness to 
have her under her roof, even in time of danger. 

" Confound it all ! " he said roughly, angry at 
his own lack of tact. " Why don't you do what 
I want you to ? First mother, then you ! It 's 
enough to make a man hate you women, the per- 
verse way you act ! Why, God only knows, — I 
don't." 

And he snatched his cap, and was ready to rush 
from the house. At the door a sight met him that 
made his jaw drop in ridiculous amazement. 

Down the road, as far as his young eyes could 
see, he spied an old horse jogging along easily, and 
on its back a woman. 

" I '11 be shot if it ain't mother ! " 

And he subsided into a chair with a resigned 
air that told plainly his inability to comprehend 
the sex, 

Lucetta turned her eyes toward the same object, 
and, for some perplexing reason, began to cry. 

" Good Lord, Lucy ! what 're you crying about 
now ? You never shed a tear, I '11 be bound, that 
night you warned the sheriff." 

" You are so rough, Frank ! and besides you just 
as good as told me your mother wouldn't have 
me in the house." 



MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 219 

" Why, I did n't do any such thing ! Here she 
comes now, to invite you herself, I '11 bet a ten- 
dollar greenback." 

Lucetta looked down the road, and, as the rather 
stern face of Mrs. Neal came well into view, her 
own hardened, and she said coldly : — 

" She is coming to say that I need n't expect 
anything of the kind. I '11 go to the sheriff's first, 
anyway, if I have to go." 

Frank couldn't believe his ears. This gentle, 
quiet girl, now so defiant, whom he had thought 
almost spiritless, he had formerly passed by for 
the "jolly" girls because they had more "go." 
None of these would have stood out so resolutely. 
He twirled his cap in perplexity. He began to 
feel as if caught between two opposing skirmish 
lines, and, expecting a lively engagement if Lu- 
cetta and his mother came together, he meditated 
retreat. 

" You don't know anything about it," he said, 
in reply to the first part of her last speech. " But, 
if she asks you, promise me you '11 go." 

He was so urgent, she looked into his eager face 
and his clear blue eyes, which pleaded earnestly 
with her, but expressed nothing more than anxiety 
for her weKare. 

" Believe me, it is for your safety I ask it. Will 
you promise ? " 

" Yes, if she asks me," was the reluctant answer 
Lucetta gave, compelled in spite of herself. 

" But, Lucy," demanded the boy, " why could n't 



220 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

you have said so in the first place and saved all 
this fuss? I never was so nearly mad at you," 
and he laughed blithely. 

" I don't know why, Frank," replied the girl 
simply. 

By this time Mrs. Neal had reached the big gate, 
and Frank hastened out to help her dismount. 

" I 've sounded her, mother, and I don't think 
she wants to come," he said craftily. " I wish she 
would, to keep you company. I '11 have to be 
away most of the week." 

Now Mrs. Neal was a woman who, while not a 
hectoring one, liked to have her favors gratefully 
accepted when she took the trouble to offer them, 
which usually she was more than willing to do. 
But in this case something undefinable held her 
back ; she felt a reluctance she could not account 
for, or rather would not. She had long since for- 
given the injury done to them by Lucetta's father. 
It was wiped out by the good works of the daughter 
and the death of the parent, but there had been 
little or no intercourse between them since that 
calamity, now a year past. 

She dismounted and was soon in the house, and 
Frank walked down the little footpath toward the 
creek, whistling cheerfully. 

"What's this Frank tells me?" were Mrs. 
Neal's first words. " He says it 's dangerous, and 
you goin' to stay here," as if her son were an oracle 
whose words could not be disputed. " I 'd like the 
best in the world to have you next week. It '11 be 



MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 221 

lonesome-like, with Abner away thresMn' about the 
neighborhood, and Frank gone, too. We '11 have 
threshers, too, a Friday." 

Both drew a little sigh of relief, characteristic of 
women when an expected unpleasantness passes by 
harmlessly. 

They looked into each other's eyes, — the one 
with anxious questioning, the other with timid ap- 
peal. They understood, if Frank did not. 

" If you want me, and I can help, I '11 go," 
said Lucetta at last, gently. 

"Might as well go now," urged Mrs. Neal, — 
" while the horse is here. Old Vick carries dou- 
ble." 

Relieved at the way the affair had ended, Lu- 
cetta quickly made her small preparations, packing 
a change of clothing into a little carpet-bag, the 
design upon which seemed made of one big red 
flower. She covered the ooals, made fast the door, 
and was ready. Soon they were ambling back to 
Neal's, and Frank, catching sight of them as they 
rode through the iron-weed standing thick in the 
sandy creek-bottom, gave an exclamation of sur- 
prise and said aloud : — 

"Well, mother's a good one! It didn't take 
her long to make the girl do what she wanted. 
And Lucy, — well, Lucy 's a nice girl." 

And he looked after them as they mounted the 
gentle swell to the house. 

The next week was the pleasantest Lucetta had 
ever passed. The Neals were what is called in 



222 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

the neighborhood " well off " and " good livers," 
and the visit was a welcome change. She was so 
ready and helpful that, before three days had 
passed, Mrs. Neal began to wonder what she should 
do without her when she went home, and why she 
had not missed her own girls when they married 
and left her, one to live in Indianapolis, and the 
other in the adjoining county. She did not take 
into consideration that her strength had flagged 
with advancing age in the decade during which 
her girls had been established in their own homes. 
Now Lucetta, whose nineteen years had been passed 
in service for others, feU naturally back into her 
former habit, and gave the old people a daughter's 
ministration. Frank was away all day, and fre- 
quently till late at night. But on the few evenings 
spent at home, when they sat on the porch talking, 
a completeness in the family circle made itself felt. 
Frank was running over with liveliness ; the others 
were cheerful. He told them stories of the bright 
side of camp life, and the only thing that stopped 
his flow of talk was when they asked about his 
prison life. Of that he could never speak freely. 

Lucetta was not a girl of superabundant spirits, 
and, at that time, life for her was too serious ; but 
now and then Frank could surprise from her a 
girlish peal that mingled pleasantly with his father's 
hearty laugh and his mother's shriller one. 

Once, when they parted for the night, the young 
people climbed the stairs together, Frank still 
laughing and talking. 



MRS. NEAL'S GUEST 223 

The old husband turned to the old wife, and, 
jerking his head in their direction, said : — 

" Frank might do worse." 

" He ain't thinking of that," said Mrs. Neal petu- 
lantly. "He don't think nor dream of anything 
but war and soldierin'." 

" That 's all right now, but he will after a while. 
He will after a while." 

" Why, Abner Neal ! have you forgot " — 

" Yes, I have, wife. And so '11 Frank, I reckon," 
said the old man sturdily. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

A PRISONER OF WAR 

On the morning of the 15th of August, Ridgely 
lay as stagnant as a mill-pond under the subdued 
rays of the rising sun. A hush seemed to brood 
over all the processes of nature ; the birds were 
silent ; the waters of Honey Creek were low from 
the midsummer drought, and flowed sluggishly in 
their bed ; cattle cropped listlessly ; and the people 
moved about as noiselessly as if on tiptoe with 
expectancy. A feeling of suspense was in the air, 
diffused as ethereally as the odor of flowers at the 
dew-fall. 

At the doors of many of the scattered cabins 
and small wooden houses in the country and on 
the outskirts of the village hung what, at first 
glance, seemed a white cornucopia, such as idle 
schoolboys make of the leaves of their copy-books. 
A vagrant wind set them a-flutter, then straightened 
them out with a smart crack to pass on and let 
them fall limp again. But that brief trick of a 
passing breeze displayed a tiny flag made of white 
cloth, with a red ribbon running along the top and 
carried down the sides, and hanging below like 
streamers. 



A PRISONER OF WAR 225 

Frank Neal was abroad early, on horseback and 
on his way to Ridgely post-office, where he expected 
important letters. 

At first sight of these mysterious rags he was 
startled and felt a twinge of fear ; the next moment 
it was changed to fury that found vent in bitter 
imprecations, and instead of keeping on to Ridgely 
he turned back, and rode at an easy trot till out of 
sight of the village, when his pace was changed to 
a furious gallop. On he rode till he reached the 
county-seat and reported to Sheriff Hale. He then 
went to the telegraph office and sent a message to 
the governor. 

Shortly after noon that same day, the Crofton 
idlers seated on the court-house fence in the shade 
of the old locust-trees, some engaged in talking 
over the prospect of Lincoln's reelection, others 
lounging in chairs tilted back against the squatty 
brick " Treasurer's Office," were attracted by a 
curious measured sound, which grew louder mo- 
mently until it resolved into a steady tramp, tramp. 
Then came the clatter of arms and jangle of can- 
teens, the flash of bayonets carried at " rest ; " then 
a cloud of dust, and a company of soldiers passed 
down Main Street and turned the corner out of 
sight before they had recovered from their surprise 
at the apparition. 

A quick command to halt was given at the town 
pump ; an order to break ranks and fill canteens ; 
and, in as few seconds as it took to execute the 
order, a crowd had collected about them, and they 



226 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

were plied with questions as to why they were 
there, and where they were going, questions they 
either could not or would not answer. 

" Them blamed Butternuts down in Honey Creek 
Township is up, I reckon ! " said one citizen, spit- 
ting out his tobacco in order to express himself 
more freely. " Some of Harv Wilson's devilment, 
I bet!" 

The soldiers bandied jests by way of reply. 
After the yoimg lieutenant in command had held 
a short conference with Sheriff Hale, the order to 
" fall in " was given, and the company formed in 
line of march and set off, followed by several farm 
wagons, whose owners had volunteered to transport 
them to their goal. They were also accompanied 
by old Jason Cory with his cannon, — the pride of 
every boy in Crofton, — which hitherto had had 
no more warlike duty than to fire a salute on the 
Fourth of July or Washington's Birthday. But 
the old gunner was a loyal man, and eagerly lent 
his service and that of his ancient gun, which he 
loved as if it were alive. Frank Neal piloted them, 
and almost before the people of Crofton had recov- 
ered from their surprise the company was gone. 
The men kept in ranks till well out of town, then at 
the command of their officer marched in irregular 
order over the dusty roads, or availed themselves 
of the jolting wagons. The march was leisurely, 
as they wished to reach Eidgely under cover of 
dusk, and encamp before the enemy knew of their 
presence on the field. They had no tents, but set 



A PRISONER OF WAR 227 

out, like seasoned veterans as they were, in light 
marching order, each man with a blanket on his 
back in which to roll himself as he couched on the 
ground. 

Frank conducted them to a retired spot by the 
secluded road that skirted the creek back of his 
home. Eidgely was not visible from that point, 
and here the troops would remain till they could 
come up with the enemy under cover of darkness. 
When Frank, who rode ahead as a scout, came in 
view of their own landing, he saw the canoe shoot 
swiftly out from the shore and down-stream as fast 
as the sturdy strokes of a girl could paddle it. 
The gay young soldiers made bets on her progress, 
or remarks of admiration on her supple grace. 
Frank wheeled and rode back to the young officer, 
with whom he exchanged a few words. The com- 
pany halted, and he dashed ahead as fast as his 
jaded animal could go. His object was to inter- 
cept the girl at the landing nearest the viUage ; 
and he was there, and had fastened his horse to a 
scrub sycamore out of her sight, before she could 
tie up the canoe, which she ran into a sheltered 
place in the willows, as if to hide it. Her cheeks 
flamed with two red spots ; her fingers trembled so 
she could hardly use them ; she looked anxious and 
agitated. 

Frank stepped out before her as she mounted 
the narrow river-path to the village, now in sight 
from the high bank, and spoke to her before she 
realized his presence. 



228 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" Where are you going, Lucy ? I thouglit you 
were to stay with mother." 

She started guiltily, but words would not at 
once rise to her lips. 

" Have you turned traitor, too ? " said Frank bit- 
terly. " By Heaven ! I 'd drown you in the creek 
if I thought so ! " 

" No, no ! " she cried breathlessly. 

" You were going to that Copperhead camp to 
warn them?" 

" Oh, Frank, it was only that I might prevent 
bloodshed. I thought I might get them to go 
home if they knew the soldiers were actually here. 
I tried to persuade them to, early this morning, 
but they would n't listen to me. I saw you gallop 
off, Frank, and I guessed that what I feared — 
the uprising — had come." 

" Then you knew what I 'd gone for, and would 
have betrayed me, too ? " 

"I did not think of betraying you, Frank. I 
only thought of the murder that would be done, 
when Tim Cull came in and told us Harv Wil- 
son had a hundred and fifty men camped in the 
meadow back of Bolser's. Then I knew you 'd 
gone for the soldiers." 

" And you would save them at the expense of 
my life?" 

"No, no!" 

" By violating the honor of your State, then ? " 

" The honor of my State is as dear to me as to 
you, or to our governor himself. But don't you 



A PRISONER OF WAR 229 

understand ? How could I let these poor fools, 
duped and led into this by Harv Wilson and such 
men, be killed by the soldiers, or, worse, arrested 
and hanged as traitors for this insurrection ? They 
are my neighbors, and were my father's and mo- 
ther's friends. I have known them all my life. 
What do they know of the principles involved in 
this war? I didn't know myself till Miss Abbot 
told me. They are as ignorant as children, and 
as impulsive. Their prejudices are worked on by 
the leaders, who as you know are bad or fanatical 
men," pleaded Lucetta. 

" They know enough to be rank traitors, and 
are eager to ruin our cause and break up the 
Union. If they are dupes, and I admit most of 
Wilson's followers are, they need a little sense 
put into them, and a bullet is as good a means of 
doing it as anything I know. The cursed hounds ! 
Infernal Copperheads ! Have I any reason to 
spare them? Your friends would have burned 
us all in our beds, and for what? Because we 
were loyal ! They would have shot me because 
I wore the blue uniform !" he urged passionately. 
And you '11 not warn them. Miss ! " — with a sud- 
den descent from the grandiose, — " and you '11 
just turn round and go home ! " said Frank, with 
that irritating air of command which men at their 
wits' end assume toward women ; and he untied his 
horse and led it into the path where he and Lu- 
cetta had stood talking. To his intense vexation, 
she continued down the path in spite of his re- 



230 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

monstrance, liis command, he following until they 
came into the road, fenced on the meadow side by 
a " stake-and-rider." 

Across the hilly field he could see smoke from 
the dying camp-fires rising in the calm, moist air. 
It was now twilight, and the insurgent camp lay in 
profound quiet, snugly hidden, and betrayed only 
by the trail of blue vapor. By climbing the rail 
fence it could be reached by a short cut. Frank 
urged Lucetta no farther, but led his horse close to 
the fence, and stepping on a lower rail said shortly : 

" Climb up here and I '11 point out the camp of 
your precious friends, if you must go to them, 
house-burners, assassins, cutthroats as they are ! " 

" Frank, I feel it my sacred duty to warn them." 

She looked firmly into his eyes, shining with 
anger. Both were determined and actuated by 
their ideas of duty and honor ; a man's will pitted 
against a woman's ; neither willing to yield. He 
sat on the top rail, with one leg thrown across the 
fence, looking down at her expectantly. An in- 
sidious smile broke the gravity of his young face 
for an instant, which as swiftly grew stern. Her 
mood was one of calm exaltation, which exasper- 
ates a man when opposed to his own, and utterly 
routs all his powers of persuasion. 

"Well," said Frank shortly, "give me your 
hand ; now step up. Wait till I get on the top 
rail." He stood up where the rails crossed, and 
reached down his hand to her. His horse stood 
with drooping head close by. 



A PRISONER OF WAR 231 

Lucetta, embarrassed by his help offered in an 
act she had performed alone all her life, did as she 
was told. 

With a sharp jerk he brought the horse along- 
side, flung himself into the saddle, and, before she 
had time to realize his intent, clasped Lucetta, who 
was on the top of the fence, in both arms, lifted 
her to a place before him on the saddle, and hold- 
ing her fast, said exultantly : — 

" You 're a prisoner of war ! All 's fair in love 
and war, Lucy, and there 's a little of both in 
this ! " 

With a shake of the bridle he was off, and when 
they reached the house he coolly locked her in a 
room up-stairs which had but one window, and that 
one from which it would be dangerous to jump. 
He knew too well Lucetta's firmness when the 
idea of duty possessed her, and he had no other 
resource but to make her a veritable prisoner. 
He passed through the kitchen to find his mother 
and inform her of his capture, but she was busy 
with the milk at the spring-house and he failed 
to see her. He returned to the soldiers, and, in 
the excitement of pitching camp, entirely forgot 
his irritation, Lucetta, everything, indeed, but the 
present occupation. 



CHAPTER XXV 

THE UPRISING 

With much shrewdness, Harv Wilson had se- 
lected the position for his camp. His sole pur- 
pose had been to keep out of sight ; but he had 
not taken into consideration, as a trained soldier 
would have done, its possibilities of successful de- 
fense in case of surprise from an enemy. 

He had chosen a horseshoe-shaped dell, about 
fifty yards across, covered with a fine thick turf of 
blue grass eaten short by the cattle. It was sur- 
rounded by hills, which rose in a gentle ascent to 
the right and left, but almost like an escarpment 
in the rear, where its green walls reached the 
greatest height. One standing at that point could 
look down on the camp and see its every move- 
ment. The opening of the horseshoe was quite 
narrow and was the outlet to the road. Within 
its confines were encamped about one hundred and 
fifty men, for the most part farmers and laborers, 
closely crowded between the green walls. Just 
what was expected of them, none knew intelligibly 
except the leaders, whose knowledge was not too 
clear. 

The expose had not proved serious, as Dodd had 



THE UPRISING 233 

predicted ; it had not penetrated to tlie innermost 
secrets, nor laid bare the purposes of the organiza- 
tion ; so that the original intention of an uprising 
for August 16th was not abandoned. 

The Knights of Riffle and Honey Creek town- 
ships had gone into camp, as ordered by the Grand 
Council, and were waiting to be joined by Price 
from the West and by Buckner from the South ; 
and they were in constant expectation of a courier 
to inform them of the advance of one or both of 
these forces, or of orders to march to the capital 
independently of these, and fall in with other 
Knights whom they might overtake. They had 
reached a state of such fanaticism that they enter- 
tained no doubt of success. 

As the sun sank behind the hills across Honey 
Creek, it was a picturesque sight to see their blaz- 
ing camp-fires ; for the August nights were chilly 
and the mists from the creek cold. The white 
walls of several large tents were fitfully displayed 
in the flickering light. The floors of these tents 
were thickly overlaid with fresh straw, and each 
man found for himself a bed in any one he fan- 
cied, or lay under the wagons that had transported 
the camp fittings. Those who disliked the too 
close quarters of the tents rolled themselves in a 
blanket and lay on the ground. Worn out with 
unusual excitement, the men soon sought their 
beds. 

Harv Wilson had grown more and more anxious 
as the evening advanced and no courier had ar- 



234 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

rived. He called about him two or three men, 
who were his inferior officers, and said : — 

" I don't know what to make of this. I was 
ordered by Dodd to be ready to move at sundown. 
He said he 'd send Captain Athon to lead us 
where he wanted us." 

" Somethin' seems wrong," observed the first 
lieutenant, who flourished a corn-knife for a sword. 

" 'Pears like, " observed the second lieutenant. 
" What ye goin' to do, Harv?" 

Harv, who was now captain, frowned at this 
breach of discipline and said : " Go to bed ! I 'm 
goin' to." 

" What ! without sentries ? " exclaimed the first 
lieutenant, who had been in the army and dishon- 
orably discharged. 

" See to postin' 'em yourself ! " said Harv an- 
grily. " I 'm goin' to bed." 

As the camp settled into repose, the low murmur 
of voices fell into silence, and gave place to the 
loud insistent fiddling of amorous katydids, and 
the shrilling of crickets. Occasionally the bark of 
a restless dog was heard. Over them hung a black- 
blue sky, into which they gazed as from a well at a 
circle of star-studded space. About midnight the 
waning moon rose above the highest hill enclosing 
the camp. The movement of sentries could be 
heard, but later they too fell asleep, unused to 
watching, and worn out by unwonted excitement. 

Up the side of the hill to the northeast three 
men crept cautiously. They climbed it obliquely 



THE UPRISING 235 

to the highest point that hung above the encamp- 
ment. This reached, they threw themselves prone 
on the ground, peering into the stronghold of the 
enemy. 

They were Frank Neal, a young corporal, and 
the young lieutenant in command. 

Frank rapidly and accurately explained the posi- 
tion, and the lieutenant laid his plans accordingly. 
They then returned to their own bivouac, half a 
mile away, as secretly as they had come. 

At four o'clock the mist from Honey Creek filled 
the valley ; like a moist veil, it fell over hills and 
woods, leaving nothing clearly visible. The cocks 
were crowing shrilly and jays were screaming, but 
these were the only signs of dawn. Yet in the en- 
campment on the by-road there were quiet move- 
ments of some kind. A small squad of men defiled 
to the right, and disappeared in the mist as silently 
as ghosts. Another followed in a few moments, 
and was swallowed up in the same mysterious 
way. A third moved to a position in front of the 
horseshoe behind which lay Harv's slumbering fol- 
lowers, and formed in line across the opening. 

All these movements were completed before the 
first sun-rays streaked the sky. The sun rose a 
little after five, but the heavy mists delayed the 
dawning, which deepened into gray light slowly. 

A sound of furious galloping bestirred the slum- 
bering camp, for the sensitive mist-charged atmo- 
sphere carried sound into the little dell with loud 
reverberance. 



236 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

The young lieutenant had placed two sentinels 
two hundred yards down the road, behind the great 
white trunks of some sycamores, which hid them 
from the camp, but gave them full view of the 
road. One of these was Frank Neal. As the 
sound of the galloping drew nearer, the men looked 
to their arms, and, as a jaded horse came in sight 
at a forced gallop from which speed was spent, 
they sprang from their places, threw the horse on 
his haunches, and forced him to halt. Before the 
amazed rider could realize his situation, a gun was 
thrust in his face through the mist, a challenge 
given, and strong hands dragged him to the ground. 

" Vallandigham," the horseman answered, un- 
hesitatingly. 

" I guess you 're the fellow we want, if you don't 
give the right password ! I 've orders to search 
him, corporal," said Frank to the other soldier. 

He rapidly examined the courier, and found a 
slip of paper, which there had been no attempt to 
conceal. On it was a single sentence : — 

" Look out for a drove of mules." 

" Ah, cipher ! " said Frank. " My young man, 
we '11 call on you to read the riddle." 

" I refuse ! " said the bearer sturdily. 

" I guess you 'd better think over your refusal," 
said Frank, placing a revolver to the fellow's head. 
" I '11 give you two minutes ! " 

The courier was not a soldier, and gasped out in 
horrified astonishment : — 

" Why, you would n't shoot a feller, would you ? " 



THE UPRISING 237 

" That 's orders ! " said Frank grimly. " This 
is war ! War of your own making, too ! So talk 
up briskly, my man." 

"It was from Colonel Heffren, of the 3d, to 
warn Harv Wilson Abe Lincoln's soldiers were 
comin.' " 

" Oh, they 're the ' mules,' are they ? " said 
Frank. The fellow grinned and nodded an assent. 

The horse, freed, slackened its pace to a weary 
walk, and, by the time Frank had made his capture, 
it had crept between the lines into the camp of the 
insurgents, from whence it had caught the neigh of 
one of its kind and feebly answered. This startled 
the camp like a loud alarm. 

As if by preconcerted signal, the men sprang 
from their tents, formed into confused groups, 
ready for they knew not what, just as the sun shot 
up over the hill, lifting the baffling cloud of mist. 

Before their astonished eyes, at the mouth of the 
dell, was planted a cannon, and, as it seemed to 
their startled senses, there stretched endlessly a 
line of blue-clad soldiers, with guns at "ready," 
standing still as if carved in stone. They turned 
mechanically to climb the less steep hills, to find 
there also a line of soldiers, with bayonets fixed, 
thrown round the dell. So skillfully had the 
troop been placed that it commanded every point 
of escape, as Harv Wilson was quick to compre- 
hend. 

He had no means of finding out their numbers. 
He was no coward, but was shrewder than his fol- 



238 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

lowers, and he advised them to lay down their 
arms and make peaceable surrender. 

This counsel had a curious effect, for it roused 
most of them to frenzy, and they rushed toward 
the line of soldiery, armed with corn-knives, pitch- 
forks, billets of wood, anything they coidd catch 
up. Those who had guns shot recklessly, and for 
a few moments the wildest commotion ensued. A 
quick volley from the troops, fired over their heads, 
had a calming effect. Seizing the opportunity, 
Wilson went among them, cursing the mutinous, 
encouraging the timid, until by degrees he brought 
them under his control and made them understand 
the uselessness of resisting trained soldiers. 

*' We '11 have help inside of an hour from Price 
or Buckner. Just keep cool, and let 'em think 
we 're beat," Harv exhorted. " That horse is 
Billy Hines's, and he was to bring the word as 
soon as they had crossed the state line." 

This encouraged those who were in a mood to be 
reasoned with, and they stood in sullen groups, not 
yet fully able to grasp the situation. 

In the midst of it all, Frank Neal came into 
camp, and, going up to Wilson, said, so that all 
might hear : — 

"Harv, I 've a communication for you," and he 
passed over a dirty scrap of paper. 

Harv read it, and his bloated face turned pale, 
as a visionary noose dangled before his eyes. But 
there was a heroic strain in him, and he bore it 
well and stanchly. 



THE UPRISING 239 

" It's all up with us, boys ! " he said to his fol- 
lowers. Then he turned to Frank and asked : — 

" Who 's your commanding officer ? " 

" Lieutenant B " 

" He 's played it smart. Tell him I surrender. 
But, Frank, use your influence with him to let 
these fools go home. Don't half of them know 
what they're here for." 

" I don't know what Lieutenant B 's orders 

are on that point, but I '11 carry your message to 
him." 

Frank scaled the steep hill opposite the point 
where the cannon was planted, and found the 
young officer standing there, watching the scene 
below. He was laughing softly as Frank came to 
his side. 

" It seems to be a bloodless victory, Neal," he 
observed. 

" Yes," assented Frank. " But they would not 
have yielded so easily but for this." And he 
handed him the bit of paper that had so affected 
Harv Wilson. 

The officer read it and remarked, "Well?" 
questioningly. 

" The fools were really in earnest," exclaimed 

B . " I knew there was devilment of some 

sort afoot. We are sent out every week or so to 
suppress local troubles. But, by Heaven, I did n't 
think it would reach insurrection in such an out-of- 
the-way place as this ! " 

The lieutenant descended the hill and took for- 



240 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

mal possession of the camp. Acting on orders 
from headquarters in such cases, he dismissed the 
rank and file to their homes, frightened and crest- 
fallen, with an indeterminate sentence hanging over 
them. Harv would be held as a prisoner of war, 
carried back to Crofton, and placed in the jail 
there, to be held till wanted by the authorities. 
Athon and Miller, his lieutenants, had a like sen- 
tence. 

In the midst of breaking camp a diversion was 
made. In some inscrutable way the news had 
flown far and wide that the soldiers had come, and 
on the road a crowd of tearful women, and fright- 
ened children, and a few silent men had gathered. 
Suddenly these made way for some one. It was 
old Mrs. Bowles, roughly crowding the women and 
trampling the children in her haste to reach the 
camp. She passed the sentinels In contempt, in 
spite of bayonets presented, to which she gave no 
more heed than so many hickory goads. 

She marched straight up to Harv, who was a 
prisoner under guard, violently shook her fist in 
his face, and raged like a lioness. 

" We might 'a' known we could n't trust you, 
Harv Wilson. You never had no sand In your 
craw. You make a big splashin' In shallow water. 
All you 're fittin' fer is to bully men like Whitta- 
ker, and rob widders aJawIn'. You deserve the 
gallows, and thank God you '11 git your wages. 
You never was true to the cause, an' I spit on 

you!" 



THE UPRISING 241 

She violently did so, before two soldiers could 
lay hands on her to lead her out of the lines, jerk- 
ing and raging. 

The young officer had a keen sense of the ridic- 
ulous, and had watched this scene with amused 
astonishment, till he recovered sufficiently to have 
her removed. 

" It seems the women would fight ! " he remarked 
with emphasis that caused "Wilson to shoot an 
envenomed glance at him. 

After a hasty breakfast the troops set out for 
Crof ton with their three prisoners, who were turned 
over to Sheriff Hale, and the great uprising in 
Middle County ended without a drop of blood being 
shed. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 

It was with a feeling o£ utter humiliation that 
Lucetta saw the door closed and locked, and Frank 
depart without a word o£ excuse or regret. She 
heard him run noisily down the stairs, slam a door ; 
then silence. The next few hours she passed in 
abasement so great she hardly moved a muscle or 
uttered a sound. The thought of the indignity to 
which she had been subjected kept running through 
her mind faster than the water in Honey Creek, 
whose fretting she could distinctly hear as it crossed 
the riffle at the ford. 

As the hours passed on and the house grew 
quieter and no one came to her rescue, she realized 
with intenser shame, if possible, that Frank had 
forgotten her. She had no means of knowing he 
was in camp with the soldiers. 

Lucetta's dealings with men had given her little 
knowledge of them that would apply to one like 
Frank, who, compared to the dwellers in this out- 
of-the-way place, had seen life, busy, active, stirring 
life. Her father was the least virile of his sex, 
although springing from sturdy Scottish stock ; and 
she may have dimly realized this lack of manly 



CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 243 

vigor, though a merciful Providence never permits 
a daughter the unsparing view of strangers in such 
cases. A large charity covered all Zeb's shortcom- 
ings, and only a remembrance of his unfailing gen- 
tleness and natural courtesy remained ; this had 
been cherished and idealized in his daughter's 
memory. Strangely enough, his weakness had no 
effect in shaping her belief of what a man should be. 

If it were possible for men to catch a spiritual 
glimpse of those ideals of maidenhood which girls 
create and endow from their own pure hearts, how 
warped and ignoble the real would seem ! Nothing 
human could fill them. They rise to the stature 
of gods, whose devotees are so engaged in looking 
up that their glance rarely falls upon the feet of 
clay. Lucetta had unconsciously endowed Frank 
with heroship. 

She could not sleep, but after hours of endur- 
ance her torturing mood of abasement passed like 
a paroxysm of pain. She felt a softer one take its 
place in her heart and wondered at it, and, with 
self -questioning peculiar to lonely women, analyzed 
it with painful accuracy. She realized that she 
was not as angry with Frank as she should have 
been, and a new fear and shame tormented her ; 
she cherished no delusions concerning his regard 
for her, but she had fostered others, unwittingly, 
in regard to herself. 

Lonely, unsought, set apart for service from 
childhood like a Vestal, no man had felt for her 
the delicate tenderness, the special affection her 



244 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

fastidious nature demanded, which, if she could 
not attain, she was strong enough to forego. The 
coarse advances of a man like Swazey disgusted 
and terrified her. She realized with an abashing 
clearness that she coveted Frank's regard ; she 
even confessed to herself, in that dreary vigil, a 
longing to inspire in him a feeling finer than a 
mere boy-and-girl fondness, which on her part was 
a fondness that had sprung to the full stature of 
love. In the flash of revelation she saw it, and 
shut it in, for she could not thrust it out of her 
pure, unselfish, longing heart. This night's rough 
treatment plainly proved that Frank had no ten- 
der feeling for her. His mind and soul were filled 
with ambition and the lust of fighting, and he 
longed for success in war, not love. She experi- 
enced a woman's resentful jealousy at being over- 
looked and neglected, while she chid herself for 
harboring the unlawful thought. 

Frank's nature was as open as the day ; he pos- 
sessed quick sympathy, easy forgetfulness of an- 
noyance, a rollicking gallantry that induced him to 
make laughing love to every pretty girl he met. 
The soldier's assurance made him confident of their 
admiration, and not many disappointed him. Yet 
there was a strong side to his character not often 
roused, — the heritage of a high sense of duty, and 
that puritanical conscience which occasionally called 
for self-abasement. 

The development of the sentimental side of his 
character had been arrested by the hard realities 



CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 245 

of war and the absorbing demands of military- 
ambition. If he had ever thought of Lucetta, it 
was with gratitude for her timely help, and to 
pity her, superjfieially, for having such a worthless 
father and sickly mother, — and, now that Prov- 
idence had removed them, there was no longer 
reason even for this compassion ; sympathy for her 
loneliness was now his strongest feeling. As a 
schoolboy, he had defended her against the rough- 
ness of other lads ; but he had been unequal to 
the task of protecting her from the sly flings of 
the girls, of which, indeed, he was ignorant, and at 
which he would probably have laughed with the cal- 
lousness of a boy unsuspecting a girl's sensitiveness. 
But Frank was one of Nature's lance-breakers, and 
the object was always a secondary matter. 

In the shriving Lucetta gave her heart that 
night, she did not overlook one bitter fact. When 
Frank was rough, and had forcibly prevented her 
carrying out her intention, and disdained her idea 
of duty, she was angry because he did it ; in an- 
other, she would have passed it by without resent- 
ment or resistance. When he had laughingly 
called her strong-minded, as she timorously un- 
folded her plans for seK-improvement to him alone, 
she was wounded that he was not more sympa- 
thetic. He regaled her with the pranks that had 
engaged him at college, and she had thought him 
lacking in love of knowledge, and was disappointed 
in him. But when he related enthusiastically his 
war experiences, showing greater desire to defeat 



246 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

the enemy than devotion to the principles involved 
in the war, she was shocked, and the escapades in 
camp and on the march sounded coarse, even bru- 
tal ; but she put it all out of her mind. She con- 
doned the fault because of the sinner. She had 
not realized that her imaginary hero had taken on 
mortal form until the harrowing fact was revealed 
in the long hours of her imprisonment, and the 
shame of the consciousness of unsought love was 
hers. Self - contempt and stern resolution would 
not banish from her mind the face that had looked 
at her as he thrust her inside the door with rough 
haste. Cheeks flushed with excitement, eyes shin- 
ing with satisfaction, his lips smiling with exulta- 
tion at his success in frustrating her design, — that 
was all she saw. The crowning insult was the only 
good-by he had given her : — 

" You '11 not meddle with what don't concern 
you, in here." 

As the hours of her imprisonment grew longer, 
her pride, — heaven's most precious gift to woman 
to sustain her against the hurt of the indifference 
or cruelty of man, — till then latent, came to her 
help. Instinct taught her on the instant that a 
show of preference from her would be received by 
him with contempt, dislike, even hate. 

Tired out, she slept fitfully for an hour or so. 
At dawn she heard the quick volley from the 
camp, and the confused sounds that followed, and 
every other emotion was swallowed up in fear for 
Frank's safety. 



CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 247 

As the day advanced to evening again and she 
was not released, her feelings underwent another 
change. She resented the neglect that kept her 
a prisoner twenty-four hours without food or drink. 
The house was large ; the little room was remote 
from the living-room, and seldom used except when 
they had company. She was certain Mrs. Neal 
knew nothing of her presence under her roof, for 
she had told her that she would stay the night 
with Mrs. Rush. 

Resentful stubbornness dislodged every tender 
emotion, and she resolved to remain there, without 
making outcry or appeal for release, till Frank him- 
self remembered her, though she starved ; and very 
real pangs of hunger reminded her how painful 
such a fate would be. 

At six o'clock Frank came home, tired and tri- 
umphant, and, as he wiped his face on the long 
roller towel in the kitchen, he vivaciously recounted 
to his father and mother the outcome of the famous 
battle. 

His mother said at the conclusion : — 

" I hope Lucetty ain't scared to death ! She 
went to see Mrs. Rush yesterday evening after 
supper, and told me she did n't know when she 'd 
come back." 

" Lucetta — Lucetta! " stammered Frank. " Good 
Lord ! I 'd forgotten all about her ! "^ And he 
dashed out of the room, fumbling for the key in 
his pocket, not heeding his mother's cry, — 



248 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" Why, is the boy crazy ? " 

He rushed up the stairway to the little room, 
turned the key in the lock, but on trying the door 
found he could not get in. It was fastened on the 
inside, and he remembered how he had put the 
old-fashioned bolt on the door because his sister 
Sally had been afraid of burglars when she came 
home on a visit. 

" Lucy ! Lucy ! " he called. There was no an- 
swer. 

" She could n't have jumped out of the window. 
It would have broken her neck or crippled her," 
he meditated. Then he shook the door vigorously, 
but to no purpose. 

" Open the door ! Don't be such a fool ! " he 
called, exasperated. 

Silence. All he heard was his mother calling to 
know what he meant. 

He waited a little longer, then said aloud, ap- 
prehensively : — 

" She could n't have died of fright. Girls are 
such cowards! " 

A recollection of Lucetta's deeds of courage 
flashed through his mind and disproved this opin- 
ion. 

" This one is n't," he mused, " but they are all 
stubborn ! " recalling contests of will with his sis- 
ters. 

" Lucy," he said, with sweet persuasion, " please 
open the door ; I 'm sorry I forgot you." No reply. 

" Damn it all ! I '11 break down this door if you 



CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 249 

don't open it ! " And a series of vigorous kicks 
gave proof of the sincerity of his threat. The gal- 
lant soldier had turned bully. He heard the bolt 
click, and he expected a different sight from the 
one that met him. He knew girls cried. " Sniv- 
eled " he called it. But this one did not. She 
was exceedingly pale, but perfectly composed, and 
her eyes rested on his coldly. With compressed 
lips she passed him, and started for the stairway 
in unbroken silence. 

Her cold glance made him feel as if a sabre had 
slashed him, and he involuntarily winced from the 
imaginary wound. His nature was demonstrative 
and must find outlet in words, which were wont 
to overflow from his lips as easily as the spring 
branch over its banks in a freshet. 

" Lucy, I 'm sorry you 've been shut up twenty- 
four hours. Why did n't you call mother ? She 
would have given you something to eat over the 
transom." Amused at the idea, he laughed. 

Lucy passed down the hall, but he intercepted 
her. 

"You don't mean that you are really mad at 
me ? " he asked, his Irish blue eyes looking as sad 
and appealing as they had been merry and amused 
the moment before. 

The sealed lips did not unclose, nor the cold 
eyes change. 

"Won't you speak to me, Lucy?" he pleaded 
in that winning way that had melted many a girl 
before. 



250 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" Yes, this once. Then I '11 never speak to you 
again ! You ridiculed my ideas of duty ; you 
impeached my loyalty ; you believed me a traitor, 
for you said so ; you insulted my womanhood " — 

Frank tried to interrupt her, but she would not 
be stopped. 

" No, don't try to make idle excuses ! Like 
other men, you cheapen a woman's patriotism ; you 
regard her idea of duty as a whim ; her love of 
country as child's prattle, to be listened to with in- 
dulgence and checked when grown tiresome. You 
have no real respect for me, and treated me with 
violence almost ruffianly ! After all this, you ex- 
pect me to act as though you had done nothing ! 
No, I '11 not have anything to do with you nor 
your people. Your mother hates me ; and yester- 
day your father said, ' Thank God, my girl, you 're 
not like your father ! ' He despises me ! But you 
— you do aU that, and more ! " 

She ran down the stairs, leaving Frank in greater 
disorder than if he had met the enemy and had 
been worsted. Before he recovered she had left 
the house. 

When he crept crestfallen into the kitchen, it 
was to find his father chuckling at his defeat, and 
his mother dazed and frightened, looking after the 
girl resentfully. 

Frank then explained, whereupon old Abner 
said : — 

" No wonder the girl 's mad ! But, 'pears to me, 
she licked you worse 'n you did the Butternuts ! " 



CAPTIVE AND CAPTOR 251 

" It 'pears to me," said Mrs. Neal tartly, " she 's 
an ungrateful hussy ! " 

" That 's the last word that should be applied to 
Lucy, mother ! " Frank said warmly, and he took 
his way to the barn with his hands in his pockets, 
whistling softly between his teeth, to think it over. 
And his mother exclaimed, " Did you ever ! " 

This outburst of Lucetta's surprised Frank and 
made him feel uncomfortable, but it created in 
him the respect she had found wanting, and he 
recognized with a boy's slow perception that per- 
haps a girl might be brave ; might have earnest 
convictions ; and that her compassion for the igno- 
rant dupes of Harv Wilson was, after all, praise- 
worthy. With his characteristic impulsiveness, he 
wanted to tell her so, and resolved to do it the 
next day. 

But in that he was disappointed, for the latch- 
string of the cabin was not out, nor could he find 
it so on the days that followed. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

CAPITULATION 

During tlie fortnight after the "battle," as it 
was thereafter called in that vicinity, Frank's time 
was taken up with the necessary legal proceedings 
against the insurgents. Notwithstanding his pre- 
occupation, he had tried many times to make his 
peace with Lucetta, but in vain. He had even 
written to her imploring recognition, at least ; for 
she had passed him in the road as she would have 
done a total stranger. He sent the note by Zeke, 
the bound boy, but it had been returned intact. 
Opposition of this kind acts differently on men of 
dissimilar temperaments. It rouses the pertinacity 
of some, kills the interest of others. In Frank it 
had the first effect ; but, to his infinite amazement, 
he had found one woman who was not amenable to 
his wishes. For a youth of his age, Frank had had 
no small share of flirtation, " sparking " they called 
it in the vernacular. It dated back to the time of 
his first fine Sunday suit presented on his sixteenth 
birthday. It was such gay, honest, open trifling 
that he had won the reputation of " meanin' no- 
thing," and the neighborhood belles repaid him in 
kind. After entering coUege his manner toward 



CAPITULATION 253 

them turned to friendliness, for he could no longer 
enter into their roi-gh fun with his former zest, 
and when he enlisted in the army his interest in 
them dwindled to the smallest. But he was per- 
fectly aware that there was no decline in their 
admiration for him, and he accepted it carelessly. 

The girls, on their part, felt something lacking 
in their present relations, — but what, they were 
not ^cute enough to discover. They accepted the 
change without resentment, and, had not Frank 
enlisted at the most opportune moment, he stood a 
fair chance of becoming that most odious of crea- 
tures, a woman-spoiled man. 

Frank's taste in the matter of female character 
and deportment had been modified insensibly dur- 
ing his four years in college by association with the 
daughters of the professors, whom he met at " mite 
societies" and sophomore and senior class-parties. 
The contrast was to the immense advantage of the 
latter, but Frank was too kindly and loyal to his 
earlier friends to own it. 

He had always heard Lucetta spoken of by the 
neighbors as "old for her age," without really 
knowing what they meant by the phrase. The 
girls had called her " uppety," which was clearer 
to him ; but he good-naturedly defended her from 
that accusation, which could have hardly been 
made worse, for it included everything they re- 
sented, — lack of humility, lack of sociability, and 
too good an opinion of one's self to the unspoken 
disparagement of others. 



254 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

Discriminating taste in the quality of woman's 
character is almost the last thing very young men 
acquire ; some never do acquire it, and it was to 
Frank's credit he was so discerning in this case. 
He recognized in Lucetta a natural refinement and 
a delicacy which made it impossible to treat her 
with the rather bold freedom of manner he dis- 
played toward the other girls in the neighborhood. 
He had been, hitherto, a sort of conquering hero 
to them, and that Lucetta should defy him, for 
some painful idea of duty, irritated and surprised 
him into a roughness toward her that made him 
first ashamed and then remorseful. If she had 
forgiven him at once, he would have forgotten ex- 
peditiously the offense and even the pardon ! But 
when she would have nothing to say to him, and 
declined to listen to his speeches, his impetuous 
nature carried him to the other extreme, and he 
determined to force from her that clemency which 
had never been denied him before by her sex. 
Her cold repudiation of his efforts at reconciliation 
chafed and fretted him, and strengthened his de- 
termination that it should be accomplished. His 
father's acrid gibing kept him to his resolution, 
which otherwise would have surely flagged when 
new interests came up, incident to the arrest and 
imprisonment of the prime movers of the insurrec- 
tion. He had given more earnest thought to Lu- 
cetta in these two weeks than to all the girls he 
had ever known, put together. 

He was aware of her ardent ambition and stead- 



CAPITULATION 255 

fastness in following a course which had led her at 
last to the goal of hev aspirations. He depreciated 
her tendency to strong-mindedness, as a very young 
man does in the case of young women who have 
not the patience to wait for him to pick and choose, 
before embracing ambitious projects. 

Meantime he had determined to reenlist for a 
year, in accordance with the new call of the Presi- 
dent. True to his Celtic blood, there was for him 
no keeping out of the fight as long as it raged. 
Now there was a fair prospect for promotion, and 
he hoped to become a lieutenant. He set Satur- 
day to go to Crofton, where there was a recruiting 
officer, to carry out his purpose. Early that morn- 
ing he stopped at the blacksmith's to have a bolt 
tightened in his buggy, which Zeke, who was with 
him, was to bring back home. 

While Alec was busy with the job, he joined in 
the trifling gossip going on in the pauses of the 
game of quoits, the invariable amusement at the 
smithy. 

" Going back to the army, are you, Frank ? " 
asked the "hand," as he beat the sparks from a 
shoe he was shaping. 

" Yes ; I start as soon as Alec finishes this job." 

" Should think you 'd had enough o' war ! Three 
years is 'nuff for most folks." 

" Well, to tell the truth. Alec, it unsettles a 
man, after he has once tasted the excitement of its 
risks and constant change. It 's life ! This is 
stagnation ! " 



256 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

" No danger of you settlin' down on the farm 
with a nice, hard-workin' girl ! " laughed Alec. 

" None, that I see at present." 

" You and Lueetty quittin' the neighborhood 
the same day seems kind o' queer ! " observed Alec 
tentatively. 

By this time, the whole neighborhood knew the 
smallest particulars of their affair. 

" Is she going to-day ? " he asked with surprise 
and interest. 

" Yes ; schoolma'am 's come to board with us 
this winter. She 's up to the house now, cryin' fit 
to kill." 

" Lucy has n't gone already ? " 

" Yes, Uncle Laws Moore took her and her 
trunk in the little spring wagon at sun-up. He 's 
carrying some peaches to town, too. Like 's not 
he '11 get her left. Rock 's so turrible slow." 

" Where 's she going ? " 

" She 'lows to go to Crofton, and take the stage 
for Waveland. She 's goin' to the Academy to 
learn to be a teacher." 

" Miss Abbot 's at your house now, you say ? 

" Yes." 

" Guess I '11 step up and see her. Hurry up 
that job, Alec ! " 

Frank started up the hill to the house, and 
Alec's meditative eye followed him as he quickly 
climbed it. 

" 'Pears like there is somethin' nearly as inter- 
estin' as war to that chap, after all. I heerd she 



CAPITULATION 257 

would n't speak to him after the rumpus ! Lu- 
cetty 's gritty," and Alec laughed softly. 

Frank reached the open door and found Miss 
Abbot just within the tidy sitting-room, swaying 
to and fro in the little rocking-chair, mournfully 
musing. 

It was barely seven o'clock, but all the morning 
work was done, and Mrs. Rush was busy with her 
soap-boiling in the back yard. 

" Good morning. Miss Abbot. Alec tells me 
Lucy 's gone. Is it true ? " said Frank, rushing 
to the point with his usual impulsiveness. 

Before answering, Miss Abbot wiped her eyes, 
which were deep pink around the lids. 

" Yes, she went with Uncle Laws at half past 
five." 

" She — she did n't leave any word for me, did 
she ? " he asked hesitatingly. Frank had sent her 
a long letter two days before, informing her of his 
intention to reenlist, begging her forgiveness in 
view of the fact that they might never meet again, 
and had received no answer whatever ; but he felt 
hopeful, for, this time, she had not returned it. 

" No," said Miss Abbot with faint surprise. 

" I might as well tell you. Miss Abbot, if Lucy 
has n't already," and he paused, — " she 's mad at 
me ! " He said it so frankly, and was so openly 
troubled. Miss Abbot would have smiled had she 
not been so sorrowful herself. 

" She told me nothing about it ; she has never 
mentioned you to me." 



258 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

Frank was a little mortified, but relieved too, 
and reflected that Lucetta had the rare virtue of 
keeping her affairs to herself. 

" You say she went with Uncle Laws ? At the 
rate old Rock travels, they must be almost to 
Chambers' Mill," said Frank reflectively. 

The foundation of Rock's reputation was just 
the reverse of Flora Temple's, but in that vicinity 
his fame was wider spread. 

" So Lucy is determined to be a teacher ? " he 
said. 

" Yes, and I know of no one who has as many 
of the qualities that go to make a good one," said 
the spinster. " So gentle, yet so firm, patient, 
and intelligent, and with such perseverance. She 
studied so faithfully and learned so quickly and 
thoroughly. She was a model daughter, and " — 
faltered Miss Abbot tearfully — " she was so kind 
to me ! I don't know what I '11 do without her." 

" I 'm afraid you '11 not find many friends here 
as congenial," said Frank warmly. " But I must 
go. I expect Alec 's got my buggy ready by this 
time. I'm going to town myself. Miss Abbot. 
If I should overtake them, and it 's likely I will, 
have you any message for Lucy ? " 

Miss Abbot seemed to remember something, for 
she went to the bureau and took from the top of 
it a white envelope. 

"Yes; tell her she left this," and Miss Abbot 
waved before Frank's mortified eyes his repentant 
letter. 



CAPITULATION 259 

" She could n't have read it, as It Is n't opened," 
lie thought. 

" I '11 be sure to catch up with them. Give it 
to me, and I '11 deliver it to her," he said aloud. 

He took it from Miss Abbot's hand, and, thrust- 
ing it into his breast pocket, went back to the 
shop, where he found the repairs finished. In a 
few moments he was whirling along the same road 
Lucetta had taken two hours before. It was the 
first week of September, and the air was fuU of 
that languorous heat which ripens the late fruit. 
The atmosphere was of the pale-yellow glow so 
characteristic of that month. It was what Alec 
in his utter satisfaction had called a " big yaller 
day." The tops of the distant trees that " kept 
company" with Honey Creek were swathed in 
pale-blue haze, which softened their jagged out- 
lines into tenderest beauty. From the woods on 
either hand came the fragrance of ripe wild grapes 
and the unique odor of maturing pawpaws. Whiffs 
of pennyroyal were borne on dewy puffs of wind 
that stirred the beeches under which it grew. The 
birds were a-tune again after their August silence. 
The " bottoms " were gorgeous with the kingly 
color of iron-weed and the glowing yellow of gold- 
enrod. 

But Frank was not interested In anything na- 
ture had to exhibit that lovely morning. He drove 
rapidly in mortified silence, grunting by way of 
answer to the garrulous boy beside him. He kept 
his eyes on the sandy road ahead, and flicked the 



260 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

lines on the back of his willing mare, urging her 
to greater speed. When he reached the top of 
the long steep hill where the track led down to 
the creek, he checked his horse to a walk. The 
road that descended the hill was an old Indian 
trail, and gradually "sidled," as cows do, instead 
of plunging straight down to the creek. For this 
reason the ford was hidden for the greater part of 
the descent, and it was not until Frank had nearly 
reached the bottom of the hill that a sight pre- 
sented itself which caused him to splash quickly 
through the stream, and brought from him an ex- 
clamation : — 

" Hello, Uncle Laws ! In trouble ? " 

Uncle Laws was pounding with a stone on the 
tire of one of his front wheels, the pair of which 
spread out as if making ready to squat on the 
ground. 

Lucetta had dismounted and stood near, anx- 
iously watching the results of his labor. But the 
old man could do nothing with it; the antique 
vehicle was too frail to withstand the sturdy blows 
he dealt ; and the wheel collapsed and left the 
wagon a-tilt on the other three, utterly useless for 
the time. 

" Too bad. Uncle Laws ! We '11 have to put a 
rail under it, and you can drag it back home," 
said Frank, who had alighted and was examining 
the wreck. 

" Yes," quavered Uncle Laws. " I ain't a-carin' 
for me and the peaches, but Lucetty here wants to 



CAPITULATION 261 

ketch the stage for Waveland that goes oat 'bout 
noon from Crofton." 

Frank looked toward Lucetta, and said, after a 
little hesitation : — 

" I can take Lucy on in my buggy, and maybe 
we can fasten the trunk on behind." 

The trunk in question was a tiny old-fashioned 
one, covered with cowhide, on which the dark-red 
hair had been left, and was thickly studded with 
brass nails. 

" I 'd go back with Uncle Laws if — How 
far are we from home ? " Lucetta asked. 

" About four miles," said Frank, so gravely that 
it led one to suspect he was making an effort to 
keep from laughing at Rock's gait. 

" Yes, Lucetty," said the old man, " you jist git 
in with Frank. It 's too bad to disappoint you. 
It don't matter about me and the peaches." 

" We can crowd the peaches in, too, Uncle 
Laws," said Frank kindly. " What do you want 
done with them? " 

The old man explained, and Frank listened at- 
tentively, promising to fulfill his behests. 

This kindliness was a new phase of Frank's 
character to Lucetta. Though unwillingly, she 
could not but admire it, and this, together with her 
urgent wish to catch the stage, overcame her obdu- 
racy, and induced her to accept a seat in Frank's 
buggy. He was perfectly aware of her reluctance, 
but ignored it, satisfied that she did accept it on 
any terms. It seemed a step toward reconciliation. 



262 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

They crowded the bag of peaches under the seat, 
and strapped the little trunk on behind with one 
of Uncle Laws's lines. After Frank had helped 
the old man, and had seen him and Zeke safely up 
the hill, they, too, set off. 

At first there was silence between them, but 
a man as impulsive as Frank could not keep his 
tongue still very long. 

" Bad for Uncle Laws, but lucky for me," he 
observed, with an attempt at jocularity which was 
belied by his evident nervousness. 

Lucetta made no reply. 

" Lucky for you too, Lucy, only you won't ac- 
knowledge it. You 'd have caught the stage about 
three o'clock at the speed old Rock was making." 

Unwillingly Lucetta smiled faintly, but it was 
a breaking up of the stern gravity of her face and 
emboldened Frank. 

" Look here, Lucy ! You might forgive me. 
I 've done everything a fellow can do in the way 
of apology. You know I 'm sorry." 

" You know you are not," she replied, with a 
burst of rash heat. " You know you 'd do it again, 
if you had the chance." 

A grievance aired, like some chemicals at the 
first exposure to the atmosphere, boils over before 
it can reach a pacific state. The situation between 
Frank and Lucetta was such as to induce an ex- 
plosion at the first reopening of the dispute between 
them. However, anything, in Frank's opinion, 
was better than deadly passivity : given the oppor- 
tunity of speech, he could defend himself. 



CAPITULATION 263 

"Well," lie said, "it was a soldier's duty to 
carry out orders, if possible ; as such I was bound 
in honor to do it first of all. I 'm sorry to have 
offended you, Lucy, but it had to be done, because 
it was the right thing to do," said Frank resolutely. 
" The only thing I am sorry for is to have made 
you mad at me." 

" And you forgot me and left me shut up twenty- 
four hours — a thing you would not have done to 
the meanest rebel prisoner. You did not think 
enough of me even to ask if I 'd starved to death," 
she said coldly, nullifying his plea. 

"Well, I know I did," he acknowledged stur- 
dily, " but you know I had some excuse for it. I 
had the confidence of men high in authority that 
I could not violate, and, more, the honor of the 
State was at stake. If it had been my own mother 
— and even you can't say I don't care for her — 
it would have been the same, — duty first." 

They were both silent while the horse climbed 
the hill, and on the level at the top Frank said, 
earnestly and diffidently : — 

" But you 've had your revenge. You ought to 
be satisfied. There has hardly been an hour since 
that I have not thought of you. You know how 
I tried to see you, and how you 've treated me. To 
paraphrase your own words, you wouldn't have 
treated the meanest Copperhead so. Sent my let- 
ters back unread. Why did n't you read the last 
one, when you kept it ? " looking at her keenly. 

He was rewarded by seeing her start slightly, and 
a flitting of red stain the pale cheek next him. 



264 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

"We are more than even, Lucy. You know 
you are unjust. Even tliese Copperhead knights 
will be given a hearing, a thing you are not fair 
enough to grant me," he pleaded artfully, appeal- 
ing, as he well knew, to one of her strongest char- 
acteristics, an unfaltering sense of justice. 

" I did not mean to be unfair to you, Frank. 
But it hurt me so, the contempt, the anger, and 
all you did to me." 

Frank made no reply to her accusation, but 
asked : — 

" Will you read my letter now?" 

" How can I ? " 

He drew it from his pocket, crumpled with his 
hasty thrust, and laid it on her lap with the address 
uppermost. 

She looked at him in startled surprise. " How 
did you get it ? " she stammered. 

" Eead it first," he demanded stubbornly ; " then 
I '11 tell you." 

She seemed no longer able to resist his will, 
which was like iron under his seemingly light, 
careless exterior, and she tore the letter open and 
read it. It was a manly, straightforward appeal 
for forgiveness, and a warm plea for a renewal of 
her friendship, and it expressed his conviction of 
his duty as a citizen and a soldier. " You women 
forget," he concluded, "that, while we fight, you 
stand in the most sacred lodgment of our hearts. 
It is for you, after aU, that men accomplish any- 
thing that is worthy ; put forth their best efforts 



CAPITULATION 265 

for your approval ; risk their lives in great causes 
to save their homes where you abide ; without you 
there would be no high endeavor. Life with only 
men in it would soon be a struggle for brute supre- 
macy. Few men love each other ; they like, they 
admire, they respect, if you will, but rarely love. 
You are the only things in creation they really 
love. And if, under great stress, their coarser na- 
ture rises uppermost — where the softer is impotent, 
useless, — and they fail in minor matters toward 
you, your finer ones should be patient and forgive." 

Lucetta felt like a " damsel possessed of divi- 
nation " that had found the purest spring of his 
nature. It was so unlike what she had expected 
from the gay, reckless, boyish Frank, she coidd 
make no comment on it, and tears came to her eyes 
so she dared not raise them. 

" Now teU me why you would n't read it," in- 
sisted Frank. 

" I was afraid to, Frank," she said, so faintly he 
could hardly hear her, 

" Afraid ? " he said, amazed. " Why ? " 

She could not dissemble, and said in almost a 
whisper : — 

" Because I was afraid I would forgive, to my 
shame. It was too easy." 

" What a strange reason ! " 

His blood leaped faster when he realized what 
such a speech might imply. A girl of less integrity 
would never have made the admission, but from 
one less conscientious it would never have moved 



266 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

him. He would liave passed it by as a speecli of 
little import. 

" Is there another reason ? " he insisted, his face 
flushing with ardor. 

She raised her startled eyes to his face, and they 
mutely implored him not to be cruel and force from 
her a revelation that to her seemed shameful. 

But at that look the tide of passion rose in him 
which broke through all barriers of maidenly re- 
serve. He must know ! She must tell ! The 
horse was walking sedately. He dropped the lines 
to the dashboard, and roughly pushed his arm about 
her. 

" Tell me, is n't there ? Tell me ! tell me ! " 

" I never wiU ! " she said desperately, virgin 
shame making her as cold as ice. 

He tightened his grasp about her, and, throwing 
his other arm over her shoulder, held her in a close 
embrace, while he took by storm what he had not 
the patience to gain by slow advances, — the first 
kiss of passion ever snatched from Lucetta's lips ; 
and he left her wounded like a doe from a death- 
bolt. Such utter shame was never felt since the 
First Mother felt it, as an emotion unknown to her, 
at creation : the poignancy, the humiliation of it 
only her daughters can know ; it is the inheritance 
of the chaste. She sighed a heart-broken sigh in 
his rough embrace, and her eyes were full of an- 
guish, which Frank read aright as soon as he re- 
covered his senses. He gathered up his lines again 
with one hand, but still kept the other about Lu- 



CAPITULATION 267 

cetta's shrinking body. He felt her tremble, but 
waited in silence for her to become a little accus- 
tomed to the situation before he spoke. It was 
not an unusual position for his free arm when rid- 
ing with any of the girls he took driving in his new 
buggy on Sunday afternoons. He felt contrition 
now that it had ever enfolded another woman. 

" You do not respect me, Frank," she faltered at 
last, " or you would not treat me so ! " 

" Of course not ! " said he, with assumed levity, 
" I never thought of such a thing ! For you see, 
Lucy, I love you so much that it means all that a 
man can feel for his sweetheart ! " 

He leaned down and looked into her agitated 
face, but her eyes avoided his. 

" I surrender, Lucy ! I 'm as much your pris- 
oner as you were mine ! " he laughed, and said pro- 
vokingly, " but I '11 be sworn you will not forget 
me ! Is n't it so ? Own up, Lucy, and we '11 sign 
a truce to last through life ! " 

" Frank," she said agitatedly, — " you never 
thought of this when you set out this morning ! " 

With any other girl he might have made a de- 
nial, but Lucetta's absolute honesty made him hon- 
est, and he answered cheerfully, — 

" Why, of course not ! Neither did you, I 
reckon ! " 

The beguilement of this speech made her set 
face slacken to a slight smile. 

" That 's right, Lucy ; now we can talk things 
over." 



268 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

He felt her rigid body relax within his encir- 
cling arm, and he smiled in her face with trium- 
phant fervor as he drew her closer to his side. 

The rest of the way, on the lonely unfrequented 
road, they talked as lovers do, and planned for that 
future which, for the gallant soldier, might never 
be. 

Frank fully approved Lucetta's plan of educat- 
ing herself, for he had learned among other things 
at Wahoo University that, while women's minds 
might not be quite equal to the curriculum for 
men, the ancient and time-honored theory that they 
ceased to develop after eighteen was a fallacy, 
like curing witchcraft by burning the witch, or 
the king's evil by touching the king. He was wise 
enough to recognize that an educated wife would 
better fit into his ambitious schemes for the future 
than an ignorant one, while, to do him justice, he 
was proud of the pluck and perseverance that had 
led Lucetta to the realization of her dreams. He 
told her that after the war he should study law, 
and his aspirations were such as to carry him into 
the halls of national legislation. But if he gave up 
his life in battle he would have done his duty, and 
that was all a man coidd do. 

His hopes and fears he unreservedly poured 
into her willing ears, and only too speedily the 
spires of Crof ton came into view from the top of 
the last hill above the town. 

" Lucy," he said, " little did I think this morn- 
ing that I 'd be nearly the happiest man in Middle 



CAPITULATION 269 

County. I did not dream of going off to war and 
leaving the dearest, noblest sweetheart a soldier 
ever left behind. I '11 never laugh again at the 
fellows that used to steal away and hide to read 
certain letters the rest of us used to joke so irrev- 
erently about, for I '11 know how to sympathize 
when I get yours. One thing more would make 
me the very happiest man alive." 

"What is it, Frank?" she asked ingenuously, 
and, looking up into his ardent eyes, she read his 
desire therein. 

" Oh, I can't, Frank ! " she faltered, and shrank 
from him. 

" Can't you give me one kiss of your own ac- 
cord? It will be the last good-by, dear, that we 
take here, for you know you would n't like public 
demonstrations. Just kiss me once ! " he pleaded. 

She looked up, quickly dropped on his lips the 
first kiss she had ever bestowed on a lover, then 
buried her face on his breast, trembling and crying. 

He dimly wondered why this most chaste of 
women had been reserved for him, whose lips had 
hitherto showered kisses with careless prodigality ; 
it was like asking a Vestal to quit her high office ; 
the young soldier felt it, and knew Lucetta could 
never have bestowed that kiss without her faithful 
love. 

" God bless you, dear, and make me worthier of 
you ! " he said fervently. 



CHAPTER XXVni 

THE TREASON TRIAL 

After the soldiers had withdrawn from the 
mimic battlefield at Kidgely, comparatively little 
punishment followed on this act of insurrection. 
The governor's leniency in this particular was a 
matter of surprise to every one, and to none more 
so than to the Knights themselves. With rare 
wisdom, he made no autocratic display of power at 
a time when it would have been most hazardous to 
do so. Such a course would certainly have firmly 
united the scattered forces of " Butternuts," and 
led to a more effective organization. He placed 
the responsibility on the leaders. One by one they 
were apprehended, until Milligan, Bowles, Dodd, 
Heffren, and Coultiss were imprisoned. Such men 
as Harv Wilson were held in the jails of the 
county seats in which they lived, and were ulti- 
mately released on bail. The rank and file were 
left to the torment of their own fears, dreading 
yet expecting hourly arrest, followed by worse 
punishment, regarding which their untutored im- 
aginations ran to extremes, and they were in an 
agony of suspense. The more cowardly members 
ran away from the State ; others were in hiding 



THE TREASON TRIAL 271 

in caves and secret places in the ravine near their 
homes. 

The preparation for the uprising of August 16th 
had been simidtaneous in all the Temples through- 
out the State. But Governor Morton was fully in- 
formed, and prepared at every point. When well 
convinced that an insurrection was imminent, with 
matchless forbearance he ordered written notices 
sent to the leaders that, if they were found en route 
to Indianapolis on August 15th and 16th, they would 
be held personally responsible for resulting dis- 
orders. 

The leaders, fully convinced of the futility of 
insurrection, sent cipher messages far and near to 
the commanders of the County Temples, who, in 
turn, were to notify the Branch Temples of the 
discovery of their plans, and the danger of persist- 
ing in attempting to carry them out. The small 
outposts remote from telegraphic communication, 
that received mail only two or three times a week, 
were informed by couriers, and the message chosen 
was the one Frank Neal had intercepted on its 
way to Harv Wilson, " Look out for a drove of 
mules ; " for, to meet any emergency, troops had 
been ordered into the localities where greater dis- 
order was anticipated, — those well-known strong- 
holds of treason on which the governor had kept a 
vigilant eye, in the midst of terrible harassment. 

Three expeditions in wagons actually succeeded 
in reaching the city limits of the capital, but were 
met by officers and ordered to return home, or be 



272 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

taken prisoners to be treated as enemies ; and they 
promptly retreated, nor stood upon the order of 
their going» 

If lenient toward the masses, Governor Morton 
was swift to punish the leaders. 

It was a solemn hour when, for the first time in 
her history, the Commonwealth arraigned six of 
her citizens for the monstrous crime of internecine 
treason. These six, in their own persons, stood for 
some thousands whom they had instigated to trea- 
sonable acts. 

On that morning in September when the com- 
mission first met, the dingy old state-house was 
the centre of interest to the entire State, indeed to 
the nation. Within the court-room a crowd had 
gathered. The seven commissioners and the judge 
advocate were in their places, and before them, on 
trial for life, were to be brought the heads of the 
conspiracy. The usual preliminaries were gone 
thi'ough, and, when the actual trial began, interest 
and suspense had reached painful intensity. 

Dodd was the first of the conspirators called to 
trial. His air of supreme fanaticism still hung 
about him. He seemed incapable of realizing his 
position, and sat unmoved on the witness-stand, 
with eyes filled with burning ardor, and a visible 
exaltation of countenance. Lingering on the edge 
of the crowd were Harv Wilson, who was out on 
bail, and had come secretly to the trial, and some 
of his confreres. There is a majesty in the law 
and its slow execution that makes itself felt by a 



THE TREASON TRIAL 273 

mere display of its machinery, stately, relentless, 
cold, and incorruptible. Brought face to face with 
it in issues that involve life and death, these 
offenders recognized its immense potency with fear 
and trembling. For the first time, they felt actual 
terror of the power of the law and its executive. 

A deep silence prevailed in the court room as 
the bailiff brought forward the first witness for the 
State. The rustling of law papers could be dis- 
tinctly heard. Even Dodd was impressed, and cast 
down his eyes, while through his fanatical mind 
flashed forebodings of mortal peril. An absolute 
hush followed. When the oath was administered 
to the witness, and his soft Southern voice answered 
distinctly and reverently, there was a straining of 
eyes and a rising on tiptoe to see him. Dodd 
lifted a startled glance to the face of the witness, 
and gazed bewildered on the man who held his 
every secret, and, as the thought penetrated his 
confused senses that this man held his life in his 
power, that he was his familiar adviser, his coad- 
jutor in the most outrageous schemes of treason, 
and held in his grasp every thread of the conspi- 
racy, he was unmanned. 

He blinked as one does on coming from grateful 
darkness into painful light, scarcely believing in 
the evidence of his own eyes. He looked again. 
There was no mistaking the tall, slender fellow, 
the red-blonde hair, the marked accent, the ready 
speech, of his ally the " Secretary of the Grand 
Council of the State of Kentucky." At that in- 



274 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

stant Dodd lost all hope of escape from the doom 
of a traitor. His gaze traveled over the cold com- 
posed faces of the commission, then turned to the 
people, who were agape with curiosity, and who 
had no knowledge of the tragic drama played by 
the two actors before them. But there was no- 
thing to cheer him in the aroused faces of the 
multitude. 

As Grundy with terrible accuracy laid bare the 
facts of the conspiracy, from the stupendous 
schemes of Vallandigham to the meetings in the 
cabin on Harv Wilson's farm, the evidence be- 
came more damning, and the ghastly phantom of 
death more real to the man who listened while the 
smooth stream of revelation poured upon the ears 
of the astounded people. 

After one amazed glance, Harv, who had risen 
to stare over the heads of those in front of him, 
sank down to his place panic-stricken, and cursed 
under his breath, when he recognized in the wit- 
ness the rag-peddler, Oliver Tapp. He muttered 
savagely, " The old hell- witch was right after all ! " 
and lost no time in leaving the court room. 

He crossed the canal, where he and two or three 
confederates had mean lodgings, and reported to 
them the terrifying incident that gave so dramatic 
a turn to the trial, and then unfolded his own plans. 
One of these men, Lattam, had been a rebel officer 
and was bold and defiant ; Pearson, the other, had 
been on the staff of the Supreme Commander, but 
neither was well known in Indianapolis. 



THE TREASON TRIAL 275 

Zerfus had followed Harv up from the country 
with the servility of a serf. 

" It 's all up with us," said Harv, " if we 're 
caught ! That fellow knows everything. The best 
thin 2: we can do is to light out for Canada this 
very night." 

Zerfus, of course, agreed with Harv, but Lat- 
tam and Pearson were experienced in intrigue, had 
a reckless love of adventure, and were incautious 
to a point where life had no value. They both 
repudiated the idea. 

" And leave these men without help ? " 

" It 's likely they can get out of a military 
prison guarded day and night, ain't it ? " sneered 
Harv. 

" When they have friends outside, they 've been 
known to do it ; that is, friends that are n't afraid 
to risk something," said Pearson scornfully. 

Harv was tasting the humiliation of a craven, 
for his companions had discerned his utter selfish- 
ness. They suspected, if an emergency should 
arise, that to save himself he would turn informer. 

They said nothing more, however, and a week 
passed. During that time Grundy had related, 
bit by bit, with wonderful accuracy, the details of 
the wildest scheme of modern history, — a wide- 
spread, ill-planned attempt at revolution not unfit- 
ting the invention of a knight of old who broke 
lances against harmless windmills ; and he proved 
himseK the most patriotic, reliable, acute, and cour- 
ageous man in the employ of the government, and, 



276 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

moreover, conscientiously earnest in breaking up 
internecine treason, from which he himself had 
suffered greatly. His knowledge of the part each 
of the six heads of the conspiracy had taken was 
perfect and convincing, and fell on their ears with 
the fatal finality of the cry of the doomsman. 

During this interval Harv's associates came in, 
and Pearson said to him : — 

" Well, Wilson, we 've found a way to be of use 
to our Grand Commander. Will you help ? " 

Harv gave a grudging assent and said : — 

" But I 'd like to know your plans." 

" Well, we went to Dodd's brother," said Lat- 
tam, " and told him to use his influence with the 
authorities to get him removed from the military 
prison to better quarters, and the fools did it ! " 
All three laughed derisively. 

" You ain't jokin' ? " exclaimed Harv incredu- 
lously. 

" No. Dodd 's now in a room in the third story 
of the Post-office Building." 

" It beats me how he managed it," observed 
Harv. 

" Well, he gave his parole of honor he would n't 
try to escape, and his brother pledged all he was 
worth to the same end, and that clinched it. 
Moved he was." 

" Precious fools they were," said Lattam con- 
temptuously. 

" Well, I don't see that it 's any easier to get 
him out there. I reckon he 's guarded." 



THE TREASON TRIAL 277 

" There 's not a guard outside," said Pearson 
slowly, as if to impress his hearers with the egre- 
gious folly of the authorities. " They depend on 
the police." 

" Well, I don't see how he can get out of the 
third story anyway ; he ain't got wings," Harv 
said doggedly. 

" No, but he 's got a ball of twine," laughed Lat- 
tam, " which won't be so awkward for him to han- 
dle." 

" Sometimes they come in handy. Go on and 
tell me your plan. I see you 've got one, though 
I 'm blamed if I see how you '11 work it," said 
Harv skeptically. 

" Well, this afternoon three of his dear friends 
got permission to visit him ; I was one of them. 
We were n't allowed to stay long. When we 
went away we left behind a ball of twine, and I 
had previously prepared a little note telling him to 
look carefully for it after we were gone, and de- 
tailing the whole plan of escape. I shook hands 
last with him, and left the note in his hand." 

" What 's the next step in the game ? " asked 
Harv, more interested and hopeful. 

He recognized in Lattam a fellow of greater 
craft and sterner resolution than himself ; a leader 
by right of ability to prevail in the face of desper- 
ate obstacles ; his spirit, broken by failure, yielded 
him fealty. 

" My plan is simple and easy enough. To-mor- 
row morning about three o'clock we will try to get 



278 KNIGHTS IN FUSTIAN 

a rope to him. At our signal lie will let down the 
twine, and when the road is clear he can escape 
down the rope. Pearson will watch at the alley 
for the policeman to pass on his beat, and will then 
turn out the gas that lights it. These October 
mornings are as black as hell, and the alley will 
be as dark as a coal shaft. If he can get down 
the rope the rest is easy." 

"A good plan, if you can work it," observed 
Harv dubiously. 

" We '11 work it all right, only Piatt 's got drunk 
and jailed, and we have n't any trusted man to be 
ready with the carriage." 

Harv saw what vms expected of him, and re- 
sented the implication conveyed by Lattam in not 
asking him boldly. 

To right himself in their esteem, he covered up 
his chagrin and said heartily : — 

" I 'm your man ! " 

" All right," said Lattam, so cordially that Harv 
felt he was in favor again. 

At the appointed hour these three men, Lattam, 
Pearson, and Wilson, grown subtile in conspiracy, 
were at their posts. And the next morning the 
city rang with the escape of the prisoner, Dodd. 

Harv secretly returned home, a defeated and 
crestfallen man, whose influence in the neighbor- 
hood was dead. Bold villany can be forgiven, 
but not weak failure, and Harv tasted to the full 
the ignominy of deposed leadership. 

The flight of Dodd had the effect of making the 



THE TREASON TRIAL 279 

surveillance over the other prisoners more constant, 
and perhaps influenced the severity of their sen- 
tence, which was death. 

At Ridgely, reports of the trial were received 
with eager concern, the testimony of Tapp and 
Frank Neal being of special interest. The revela- 
tion of Tapp's identity was received with amaze- 
ment. Every peculiarity of the man was can- 
vassed, every speech recalled with that minute 
attention to details the most trifling peculiar to 
country neighborhoods. In the mean time he was 
exalted to heroship with Frank. But there was 
consternation when a rumor reached there that 
Bowles and Milligan were writing confessions, and 
implicating men whose names hitherto had been 
unmentioned, or who had escaped with slight pun- 
ishment, and there was an exodus to Canada that 
bade fair to depopulate the county. Harv Wilson 
was one of the first to flee ; but old Mrs. Bowles 
stood her ground — defying everybody, from the 
governor down to the constable. 

Later on, when they heard of the assassination 
of Lincoln, — grown pure and exalted by high and 
noble purposes until fitted for the martyrdom he 
met, — there came to them the realization of the 
true meaning of domestic treason, and the influ- 
ence of the order was broken. To this day, there 
are no claimants in Middle County to the spurs of 
the Knights in Fustian. 



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